two poems on interpretation, Billy Collins and Archibald MacLeish

From: Bob S.
Sent on: Monday, April 23, 2012 3:21 PM

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Ars Poetica

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.

Robert D. Shepherd
[masked]th Avenue, Apt. 213
St. Petersburg, FL 33716

[address removed]


"E questo dubbio [about the meaning of life] e impossibile a solvere a chi non fosse in simile grado fedele d'Amore." --Dante, La vita nuova

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