Ars Poetica By Archibald Macleish English Literature Essay

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The poem Ars Poetica from the start to the finish shows the reader how to read a poem. It has a few misunderstand able parts but some points are also very straight forward. MacLeish uses imagery to show what how the poetry should be read. He used fruits, the moon and even love to show the reader what his take on how people should read poetry should be. The poem can be divided into 3 stanzas: the first is about how simple a poem can be, the second is about how the reader should feel as he reads the poem and the third is about how a reader should react to the poem with playing on the emotion. One thought this poem was a challenging to understand because of the vague parts but I believe the author is trying to teach the reader on how to read a poem properly. This poem has many different interpretations and it is up to the reader on how they see it.

The first stanza summarizes the whole poem. The author exemplifies how simple and quiet a poem should be. Most of his ideas are compared with examples and similes. "Ars Poetica" from the first lines it describes a fruit. In the lines "Dumb / As old medallions to the thumb / Silent as the sleeve-won stone / Of casement ledges where the moss has grown" (line 3-6), he means that poems are dumb and should be silent. From just these few lines we can see he is very straightforward and simple minded with his thoughts. He bluntly states what he wants the reader to get out this poem therefore he gives no indication on symbolism or hidden meanings. "A poem should be wordless / as the flight of birds" (line 7-8) means since the actions of birds are very sight only, that it takes no thinking to observe their flights at all. Through that line he gives a non-complicity of the poem. Macleish is saying that rather than having people just hear it; they should relate to the context and be able to react with the story.

The second stanza is almost identical in the flow and organization as the first. Through lines 9-16 the author says it seems like the moon just rises and falls without is being aware of it. We look up at the night sky and it is just there. With the lines "Leaving, as the moon releases / Twig by twig the night-entangled tress," an (11-12) show at the moon is visible at times and other times it can be hidden. "Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves, / Memory by memory the mind" (13-14), he uses these imagery to tell the reader that it is okay not to understand the poem fully, it is perfectly acceptable to understand only a few parts of a poem because each person perceives a poem very differently. He emphasizes the fact that a poem is just a memory and that it will soon fade away. In the last line of the second stanza, "A poem should be motionless in time / As the moon climbs" (15-16), he uses this imagery to show that poetry should be taken in a comfortable and slow pace and that is should not cause an immediate reaction in the mind. He repeated this line to convey a certain image. This shows that the wants the reader to understand that certain image of "motionless in time".

The third stanza; "A poem should be equal to: / Not true", is the line in the poem where one is not certain what the author is trying to say. He could mean that the reader should interrupt the poem in his own way and that the poem should be equal to nothing. The image "For all the history of grief"(19) shows the hardship that many of us face in our daily lives, but at the end all there is to show is "An empty doorway and a maple leaf" (20). "For love / leaning grasses and two lights above the sea" (21-22) shows a romantic side to the poem. The final line states "A should not mean / but be." (23-24) shows that a poem should cause a reaction with the reader; it should be just read and left it at that. It says the poem should get to the point quick but also be meaningful.

From the article, "Palpable and mute…".A reading of Archibald MacLeish's "Ars Poetica" by Muhhammad Hesham; he interpreted the story almost like I did. He said, "The reader, therefore, is alerted from the very beginning that what in hand is not a piece of poetry, but rather a piece on poetry" this shows that he is trying to say that it is not a poem but rather a poem on how to write a poem. He goes to say in the first stanza that the author relies on imagery to help communicate to the reader. From the second stanza, "The image of the moon climbing unobtrusively behind the trees and moving imperceptibly in the mind evokes the ideas of stillness and eternity" talks about how the image of the moon was used to engrave many different ideas. And at the final stanza Muhhammad talks about how the last stanza is about love and grief and how this poem has "its own kind of truth" meaning that an individual as his own outlook on a poem or his own kind of truth about the poem. "The reader's labour, on the other hand, is to struggle with the silence of the poem to make it answer and mean. It is silence, therefore, that endows a poem with its being, its essence, and its ability to generate unending interpretations" I believe that he was trying to say that it is up to the reader to understand what the poet was trying outline in his poem, no one can help you understand because each poem has unending interpretations.

With the conclusion, I say that from reading "Ars Poetica" and the article, it shows the reader that poetry is not just to be read but rather to be understood at a personal level. Each reader has their own thoughts, feelings and reactions to a poem and Archibald MacLeish was only trying to point the reader in the right direction using amazing imagery. From the article it was backed up by Muhhammad from what he took of the article. He saw it not as a piece of poetry but rather a piece on poetry. He says that each poem has unending interpretations and that the reader will have to struggle to find theirs.

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