Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish - Critical Thinking Example

Paper Type:  Critical thinking
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  616 Words
Date:  2021-04-14


Every individual has his or her take on poetry. Some people scrutinize and go into deep thought regarding poetry while others focus on the superficial appearances that the author has presented. However, the explanation is created, and opinions are based. The poem “Ars Poetica” by Archibald MacLeish is quite challenging to understand since it contains vague parts, but I think the author is trying to teach the reader how to read a poem correctly which can be considered as the “Ars Poetica” theme. The poem contains various interpretations, and it is the work of the reader to understand them (Thompson).

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Meaning of Ars Poetica by Archibald Macleish

The first stanza summarizes the entire poem. The author begins by asserting how quiet and straightforward, and quiet a poem should be. The author uses similes and examples in comparing his ideas. The first line describes the fruit. He goes forward and says that poems are dumb and that they need to be effortless and wordless. Reading this stanza, you can realize that the author is an individual with straightforward thoughts and a simple-minded person. There is no symbolism or hidden meanings that the author has provided; the author has just focused on making the reader know his feelings on what the poem should contain. What he focused on is non-compliance in his poem, and that is what he wanted the reader to realize.

Ars Poetica by Archibald Macleish: Analysis of Second Stanza

The second stanza is almost similar to the first stanza regarding the flow and organization. Through lines 9-16 he states that it appears like the moon just rises and falls without being aware of it. That is what the author thinks a poem should be like. MacLeish goes forward with the comparison to the moon and the way and the manner in which it falls in the third line. According to “Ars Poetica” by archibald macleish, I think the author wants the reader to know that it is okay not to understand parts of the poetry since it is just a regular thing, and it is perfectly acceptable to comprehend a few parts. He asserts that the poem is just a memory and soon it will be forgotten. In the last line of the second stanza, "A poem should be motionless in time / as the moon climbs" (15-16), he uses this to show that the poem should not cause any instant reaction to the reader and should be taken just lightly.

According to Ars Poetica by Archibald Macleish What a Poem Should Not Mean?

In the third, "A poem should be equal to / Not true, it is the line in the poem that you cannot ascertain what the author intended to mean”. Maybe he tries to say that we should understand the poem for ourselves and that the poem should be equal to nothing. The image "For all the history of grief"(19) displays the problems that people go through in their lives. The last line of the stanza "A should not mean / but be." (23-24) shows that the poem should not cause any reaction to the reader; it should just be read, and nothing big should be taken out of it.


Conclusively, after reading the poem "Ars Poetica”, it is advisable that the reader should not just read the poem but rather understand at an individual level. Every reader digests the poem differently and has his or her views, and the author of this poem was trying to point the reader towards that direction using astonishing imagery.

Works Cited

Thompson, Aidan Philip. A poem should not mean, but be: poetic form vs. content in Algernon Charles Swinburne. Diss. University of Birmingham, 2015.

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Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish - Critical Thinking Example. (2021, Apr 14). Retrieved from

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