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July 13, 2012

Poetry Friday--More Poets On Poems

Finches photo by photosbyflick.

Last month I posted about Poets on Poems. Many of you commented on how much you liked the poems I selected, and many specifically mentioned "Ars Poetica" by Archibald MacLeish. I like that poem, too, and, so, I ordered a used copy of New and Collected Poems: 1917-1976 (Houghton Mifflin, 1976) to explore more of MacLeish's work.

Being an impatient soul, I skipped over his extremely lengthy poems and just concentrated on reading the short ones. In doing so, I found that MacLeish had much to say about writing and poetry in particular.
Theory of Poetry

Know the world by heart
Or never know it!
Let the pendant stand apart--
Nothing he can name will show it:
Also him of intellectual art.
None know it
Till they know the world by heart.

Take heart, then, poet!

Poetical Remains

What will our reputations be?
whole things? Constructions
Resisting time (that sea!)
With the rock's persistent luck?

I doubt it. We leave behind
An anthological rubble:
Mind mingled with mind,
Odd and even coupled.

But poetry thrives that way.
Out of the tumbled coral
One exquisite spray,
Ivory, tipped with ore.

They Come No More, Those Words, Those Finches

Oh when you're young
And the words to your tongue
Like the birds to Saint Francis
With darting, with dances--
Wait! you say, Wait!
There's still time! It's not late!

And the next day you're old
And the words all as cold
As the birds in October
Sing over, sing over,
Sing Late! Late!

And Wait! you say, Wait!

Isn't that last one fantastic! When I went looking something to illustrate this post, I came across the photo above, which I love, but what got me was that the photographer captioned it with "They are pretty hard to capture in flight." Sort of like writers trying to grab the right words, or any words, for that matter!

Fly over to Check It Out for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.


  1. I love MacLeish but I didn't know there three poems so I am so glad you shared them.
    I especially love the lines "We leave behind/ An anthological rubble:"
    Periodically I paw through the 'anthological rubble' of the poems I wrote when I was younger looking for treasure.

  2. I love everything about this post! I wish I could get an exact URL for it so that I could save it in my Poems about Poetry file.

  3. Beautiful post, Diane, & you are right, I love that last one, too-"And wait! you say Wait!" Thank you for sharing about the photographer & the birds, too. Lovely. I do love the poems about poetry, or writing, & have collected many to share with students, even had them write their own. It's wonderful to see their ideas about poetry.

  4. If you ever need the exact link, you can click on the post title which will put the exact link into the address box.

    I'm glad you stopped by Mary Lee and Linda, and that you liked today's picks!

    1. Diane,
      I tried clicking on the post title, and on the time you posted...I tried everything and all I could get was www.randomnoodling.com. Now I see that I need to add the .blogspot to get to the exact URL. Thanks for sending it to me!

  5. I love the "tumbled coral."

  6. I love ars poetica poems and these are masterful! I especially love the rhythm and repeats in that last one. (On my personal blog I'm writing about aging, and have a post scheduled on the aging artist. That last poem speaks eloquently on that subject.)

  7. I look forward to seeing your post on aging artists, Violet!

  8. These are wonderful, Diane - thanks for sharing. Love the "Out of the tumbled coral/
    One exquisite spray..."

  9. Great collection of poems!!!

    Do visit my blog of poems and give your valuable feedback!!!