Archives for posts with tag: Archibald MacLeish

The One Page Poetry Circle met in November to discuss Poetry and Simplicity.

All of the poems presented complex ideas in a single page.

Abigail opened the circle with Una Hynum’s “Origami,” “Yesterday I laundered a mouse — / wash, rinse, spin cycled.” The mouse emerges looking “as if sculpted from Japanese Kami paper,” perfect but dead.

Roger read Dejan Stojanovic’s “Simplicity,” which in two-line verses explores the idea that “The most complicated skill/Is to be simple.”

Hazel read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s tranquil “Prelude to the Voices of the Night,” evoking the beauty of lying under a tree and looking up, “Pleasant it was, when woods were green,/And winds were soft and low.”

Gail read “The Meaning of Simplicity” by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos in which everyday things become bridges of connection, “you will touch those objects my hand has touched/the traces of our hands will mingle.”

Elizabeth read Ron Padgett’s “Wristwatch,” written while the author was “… feeling rather tempus fugit.” “Maybe I should/just sit here/for a while, let/some time pass/so my wife will think/I’ve been working hard.”

Christiana read “To Stand in the Shadow” by Paul Celan, with its suggestion of something that cannot be spoken, “To stand in the Shadow/of the Wound’s-Mark in the Air.”

Michael read “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by William Butler Yeats. The narrator seeks Aengus, a god of love and youth in Irish mythology, who beckoned him in his youth, “Though I am old with wandering/through hollow lands and hilly lands,/I will find out where she has gone.”

Cate read Joy Harjo’s “Sunrise Healing Song” that combines English with the Creek language, “What obscures, falls away./Ha yut ke hvtke.” Although we don’t know the translation, we love the mystery of the refrain.

Kat read the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore’s “Paper Boats,” “I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and/hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land/in the night.”

Phil read “On Turning Ten” by Billy Collins, “You tell me it is too early to be looking back,/but that is because you have forgotten/the perfect simplicity of being one/and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.”

AnnaLee read Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica,” which concludes, “A poem should not mean/But be.” She also brought John Ciardi’s exercise of stripping out the imagery of MacLeish’s poem to show that to oversimplify removes the “be.”

Kai couldn’t be there but suggested “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens with its startling images.


Fall 2018 Schedule
Tuesday, December 11, Poetry and Wine

Join us in the Spring!
Tuesday, February 12, Poetry and You
Tuesday, March 5, Poetry and Food
Tuesday, April 2, Poetry and Mystery
Tuesday, May 7, Poetry and Longing

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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The One Page Poetry Circle (at St. Agnes Branch Library) met on March 6th to talk about Poetry and Enjambment. The word comes from the French meaning “legs straddling,” as the thought in a poem can flow beyond a line.

Abigail opened the circle with Núala Ni Dhomhnaill’s “The Language Issue,” her answer to why she writes in Irish (the poem was translated into English by Paul Muldoon) and begins, “I place my hope on the water/in this little boat/of the language, the way a body might put/an infant/in a basket of intertwined/iris leaves.” The poem reflects the flowing water with enjambment.

Roger read “The Poet of Bray” by John Heath-Stubbs, a humorous history of a poet’s changing political views. His excitement is captured with enjambment, “Back in the dear old thirties’ days/When politics was passion/A harmless left-wing bard was I/And so I grew in fashion.”

Hazel read Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” speech from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. We were delighted to revisit this poem and examine how the thoughts move forward, “To be, or not to be—that is the question:/Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune/Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”

Gail read “The Good Life” by the current American Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, a poem that captures shifting images in a single sentence and is given in its entirety here:

When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.

Ken read the start of “Endymion” by John Keats, with its many beautiful images created through enjambment, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:/Its loveliness increases; it will never/Pass into nothingness; but still will keep/A bower quiet for us, and a sleep/Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”

Christiana read Marianne Moore’s “The Fish,” which proceeds in ocean-like waves, “wade/through black jade/Of the crow-blue mussel-shells, one keeps/adjusting the ash heaps;/opening and shutting itself like/an/injured fan.”

Linda read Sylvia Plath’s “Edge,” written just six days before she died, in which the sentences run on into the next verse, “The woman is perfected./Her dead/Body wears the smile of accomplishment,/The illusion of a Greek necessity/Flows in the scrolls of her toga.”

Cate read Ted Kooser’s “Gyroscope,” which creates a beautiful image in one sentence, “I place this within the first order/of wonders: a ten-year-old girl/one on a sunny, glassed-in porch/in February, the world beyond/the windows slowly tipping forward into spring.” We noted that when you first read the line ending “the world beyond” there seems to be a natural stop, but the thought continues into the next line and the thought changes.

Susan read “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams in which a husband apologizes for eating the plums in the icebox that his wife was saving for breakfast, “Forgive me/they were delicious/so sweet/and so cold.”

AnnaLee read Archibald MacLeish’s “The End of the World” in which a mad circus disappears when the top blows off, “There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,/There in the sudden blackness the black pall/Of nothing, nothing, nothing—nothing at all.”

Please blog with us at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com. And join us for our next program at the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, 81st and Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan. Dates and times follow:  

Spring 2018 Schedule
April 17: Poetry and Timing (5:30 – 6:30 pm)
May 8: Poetry and Choices (5:30 – 6:30 pm)

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

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We’re back for the eighth season of the One Page Poetry Circle where people gather to examine the works of established poets. While there’s no instructor and this is not a workshop for personal writing, once a month OPPC gives everyone a place to become teachers and learners to explore the form, content, language and meaning of poetry.

We chose the theme of Poetry and Endings not just because December 13 is our last meeting of the year, but also because the last lines of poems have special significance. As 2016 marches toward its end, we give you a stanza from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” describing the sound of church bells at the end of the year and the hope for what lies ahead after the poet has experienced a particularly difficult year:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

When we come to the last words of a fine poem we complete a journey. Ex-Poet Laureate Billy Collins relates his satisfaction when finding an ending to a poem, describing the silence that follows a poem’s last word as something new created between the reader and writer. In her poem “Endings” Mona Van Duyn writes that an end “lights up the meaning of the whole work.” Archibald MacLeish’s famous ending to “Ars Poetica” (here in its entirety) has lit up many a literary discussion:

 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.

Is there an ending of a poem that you have particularly enjoyed? Do you know a poem where the ending surprises because it takes a turn you didn’t expect? Let us know here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.