It’s National Poetry Month


I’ve got the habit now, so LOOK OUT!  No foolin’—today is the opening day of National Poetry Month. While I may not post every day, I will be rising to my own personal challenge which is to share at least five poems I love each week.  Bear with me; there may be a story attached, for isn’t that what the best words do, connect us to the universe of humanity, our storied selves?

As I’ve said before, my New Year’s Resolution is to memorize at least one poem a month (I’ve got four new ones in my head, agates in the rock polisher of my mind).  What I didn’t divulge is that there’s a open mic in town on Thursday nights, and I plan to recite a couple of my favorites for the four nights…that’s eight poems!

Today’s poem, the month’s opener, is one I’ve carried “in my pocket” for years:

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit,
As old medallions to the thumb,
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—
A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds.
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs,
Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,
Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind—
A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs.
A poem should be equal to:
Not true.
For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.
For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—
A poem should not mean
But be.
Archibald MacLeish, “Ars Poetica” from Collected Poems 1917-1982. Copyright © 1985 by The Estate of Archibald MacLeish. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Source: Collected Poems 1917-1952 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1952)

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