Archives for posts with tag: Ars Poetica

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.



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,

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