Ars Poetica

Ars Poetica
People often assume that all poetry should possess a deeper meaning. In “Ars Poetica,” by Archibald Macleish, he states his opinions on how a poem should be written and the types of elements it should include. MacLeish employs simple imagery and contrasting diction to criticize the many aspects of modern poetry.
The poet uses simple imagery to convey his views on the proper emotional elements that a modern poem should possess. He uses these symbols to convey the idea that the words in a poem maybe physical, but the ultimate meaning should be intangible. The essence of a poem lies in the images it uses. MacLeish uses the symbol of “an empty doorway” as an entrance to higher knowledge. The empty doorway has no one standing in the way. In other words, no one should be able to force one particular interpretation of a poem on someone. Anyone can take a certain poem and interpret it anyway they wish. Pathetic fallacy in the second stanza enforces the idea that “a poem should be motionless in time.” MacLeish uses the moon as a continuous symbol of the affect poetry should have on people. “The moon releases twig by twig the night-entangled trees,” suggests that a poem should illuminate new ideas for people. People should have the ability to think at a deeper level or search for deeper meaning after reading a poem. The poet uses “the flight of birds” to convey the idea that a poem should be wordless. Typically, a bird  
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conveys a symbol of freedom. MacLeish could have chosen from a large amount of symbols to convey the idea that a poem should be wordless, but he uses “the flight of   birds.” This action symbolizes wordlessness, as well as freedom. A poem should make the reader “fly as high” as they want when they possess the freedom to interpret the poem as they wish.
MacLeish uses contrasting diction to portray his thoughts on the proper structure of a poem. The paradoxical words such as “mute” or “dumb” or “wordless” are used throughout the...