Critical Analysis of Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish

Essay add: 30-09-2015, 14:00   /   Views: 1 595
"Ars Poetica" Critical Analysis

Every person has his or her own opinion about poetry. Some analyze and go into deep thought about poetry and others just look at the superficial appearance presented by the author. Either way, interpretations are created and opinions are based. The poem “Ars Poetica”, by Archibald MacLeish is a very simple and blunt poem. His feelings about poetry are presented in a very simple way, so that no one can get the wrong idea.

The first stanza summarizes the whole poem. He starts out by stating how quiet and simple a poem should be. He compares all of his ideas with examples and similes. In this case, it is a piece of fruit. He goes on to say that poems are dumb and that they should be wordless and effortless. From this stanza, we can tell that he is a man with a very simple mind and very straightforward thoughts. He gives no indication of symbolism or hidden meanings, he just wants the reader to know his feelings on what a poem should be. He wants the reader to realize the non-complicity of this poem. “A poem should be wordless, as the flight of birds” means that it takes no thinking to observe birds, their actions are sight only. As you can see, he is a very comparative writer with shallow thoughts and simplistic verses.

The second stanza follows the exact same organization and flow as the first. It seems as if the moon rises and falls without us even knowing. We just look and its there. That is what MacLeish believes a poem should be like. He continues on with the comparison to the moon and the way it falls in the third line. As the moon passes through the trees there are times at which it is visible and other times when its not. As he compares it to the falling moon, I think that he feels as if the reader should not always understand the poem, and that its okay to not understand parts of poetry because that is just the natural and normal thing. He goes on to say that poems should be just a memory and that they will all fade away soon. In the last line, he repeats the first. Once again, he wishes to emphasize that fact that there should be no fast moving poetry and that it should not immediately stir something up in your mind. In this stanza, he used a repeating line to convey an idea. This means that he must really wish that the reader register that particular idea.

The last stanza relays the true feelings of the poem to the reader. He starts out by saying what a poem should be equal to and replies “not true.” This is the only point in the poem that the reader is unclear in what he is reading. MacLeish may mean that a poem should be equal to nothing and that it is whatever the reader wishes it to be. He goes on to say that for all of the grief and hardship that we have endured throughout our lives, all that is left to show it is an empty doorway and a leaf, representing just a hole in the wall and no one there. Next, love is discussed. As the grass leans, all of the attentions goes to it and it is given a romantic theme. Just like two people alone on the beach. Finally, he says “a poem should not mean, but be.” This means that the context should relate to people and cause a reaction, rather than just have people hear it. All in all, the poem should be a meaningful and heartly issue that just goes straight to the point clearly.

This poem has some very straight points and some vague parts at the end. In the beginning, he clearly states his criteria for a poem and what a poems means to him. What he wishes is or all to see poetry the way he does. The first stanza is about how simplistic a poem needs to be. It doesn’t even need “words”, just needs to mean something to the reader. The second paragraph is all about emotion. The way a person reacts may be different, however, it will mean something to everyone. We also know that this is an important thought, otherwise the author would not have added the same line twice. The third and final stanza is based on emotional and how each individual chooses to react to it. It is not easily understood, yet I believe the author is trying to convey that either a person can be left empty with nothing to show, or that someone could be touched by it and display great emotion. This poem has many meanings and show’s the personal feeling about someone in particular.

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