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Critical Analysis of Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish

"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. ...

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