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Ars Poetica- Archibald MacLeish

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Virginia Credle English 12/Bl. 2 January 6, 2003 Ars Poetica- Archibald MacLeish In the poem "Ars Poetica" by Archibald MacLeish, the poet creates a paradox through the use of metaphor and irony to explain the proper means of creating a poem even though the poem cannot fulfill the very constraints it has set. Archibald MacLeish utilizes the philosophies of imagists in his poem written in 1926 to explain the truths behind poetry. Three principles of imagism are to be brief, be direct, and use free verse. These principles are not used fully, but the reader can understand the connection between "Ars Poetica" and the most basic of imagist poetry. Within the poem, metaphors are used to briefly explain the chief message of the poem even though the metaphors do become contradictory. ...read more.


MacLeish says that a poem should be motionless as the moon which remains locked in the memory of the onlooker. MacLeish also bestows the advice that "a poem should be wordless/As the flight of birds." The paradox is evident in this statement because the poem contains words which MacLeish says a proper poem should not have. Credle 2 This statement also relates to the irony in the poem. A reader expects a poem to contain words, but to say it should not have words would seem absurd. He also says that a poem should be mute; however, it is said that poetry is meant to be heard not read. Once again, he makes a statement that contradicts the expected explanation of a poem. ...read more.


MacLeish's idea of a poem can only be defined in the metaphysical world. The statements are proposed to the readers to aid them in reaching a Zen-like state. "Ars Poetica" contains both metaphors and irony to explain Archibald MacLeish's idea of poetry which is supposed to be paradoxical. The metaphors help create images of poetry that should be timeless and hold truths that are relevant in any era. MacLeish presents an idea of poetry which is the opposite of the expected concept of poetry. These both aid the contradictions which he presents in his poem. He states some paradoxes, and others are created because his own poem cannot follow the standards he sets. "Ars Poetica" presents an idea of poetry that stems from classical, modern, physical, and metaphysical, and it creates its own paradox. ...read more.

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