A poem should be palpable and mute As a globed fruit, Dumb 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.
Archibald MacLeish - 1892-1982
Like moon-dark, like brown water you escape, O laughing mouth, O sweet uplifted lips. Within the peering brain old ghosts take shape; You flame and wither as the white foam slips Back from the broken wave: sometimes a start, A gesture of the hands, a way you own Of bending that smooth head above your heart,— Then these are vanished, then the dream is gone. Oh, you are too much mine and flesh of me To seal upon the brain, who in the blood Are so intense a pulse, so swift a flood Of beauty, such unceasing instancy. Dear unimagined brow, unvisioned face, All beauty has become your dwelling place.