As a globed fruit,
As old medallions to the thumb,
Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where 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:
For all the history and grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -
A poem should not mean
Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)