June 8, 2012

Poetry Friday--Poets on Poems

First of all, congratulations to Nastasha Trethewey who yesterday was named the new U.S. Poet Laureate!

Secondly, I'd like to offer five little poems about poems for Poetry Friday:

by Matsuo Allard

deep in my notebook a lily pad floats away

The Last Poem in the World
by Hayden Carruth

Would I write it if I could?
Bet your glitzy ass I would.

The Poem
by Donald Hall

It discovers by night
what the day hid from it.
Sometimes it turns itself
into an animal.
In summer it takes long walks
by itself where meadows
fold back from ditches.
Once it stood still
in a quiet row of machines.
Who knows
what it is thinking?

Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M.
by Donald Justice

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 A.M.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

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.

I'll meet you over at Jama's Alphabet Soup with my spoon in hand!

Photo by theclyde.


  1. These lines gave me shivers:

    "A poem should be motionless in time
    As the moon climbs,

    Leaving, as the moon releases
    Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,"

    Thank you for these lovely reflections on poetry!

  2. I just love Donald Justice's poem, and of course MacLeish's "A poem should not mean
    But be" are a short lesson on a big subject. Thanks for both the giggles ("glitzy ass!") and the beauty!

  3. What a lovely offering of poetry poems! Nice to read MacLeish's classic again, and that glitzy ass was quite a surprise :).

  4. "A poem should not mean
    But be."

    That's wonderful. Thanks for these lovely poems, Diane.

  5. Beautiful! These make me want to quit reading Poetry Friday posts and go write!

  6. 'for all the history of grief, an empty doorway and a maple leaf' - Thank you for all of them, for finding them to share.

  7. Thank you for this glorious collection! I'm with Ruth..."bet your glizty ass" it makes me want to go and write!

  8. Isn't "Ars Poetica" a wonder? These are my favorite lines, Silent as the sleeve-worn stone/Of casement ledges where the moss has grown--. What stories are held in those two lines? Rapunzel looking out the window awaiting rescue? A woman worrying why her child has not come home? An old man, nearly deaf, straining to hear the birds he knows are just outside the window? Great poem--I'll have to be on the look-out for more MacLeish.

  9. "The Last Poem in the World" made me laugh my butt off.