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I warm to the series of images he crafts with such commendable economy of phrase. In part they exemplify it; in part provide a warning that such an art eludes straightforward setting out in words.

The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica

How does the poem stand in relation to its classical namesake? My main concern is to write essays, not analyze and discuss them. What exactly is an essay? Is it possible to provide a statement of the art involved in writing one? It contains much that remains relevant—for writers of any genre.

Ars Poetica

Written as a letter to Lucius Piso a Roman senator and his sons, albeit a letter in hexameter verse, the epistolary style helps take the edge off any didacticism. Essays still buy into the risk and freedom implied in that original meaning, rather than giving their allegiance to a set of rules.


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Constraint, conformity, obedience to authority—such things are anathema to essayists. For Montaigne—who laid so many of the foundations of the genre—an essai was a trial, an attempt, an experiment. Of course, MacLeish is by no means the only modern poet to have penned an ars poetica.

Czeslaw Milosz might also be included—though his addition of a strategic question mark needs to be stressed. Many others offer what is essentially an ars poetica, even if the work in question is differently entitled e.

Spicynodes : Ars Poetica

To presume that the essence of the art of essay writing could be laid out definitively by any essayist would suggest both arrogance and ignorance. The genre has flourished for centuries across many cultures. Its diversity and scale should make us suspicious of any attempt to contain it within the distillation of one set of principles. What follows is not intended as a manifesto for essays in general—such a thing would soon be rejected by this least rule-governed of literary forms. Memory is often mined—sometimes for the raw ore of reminiscence, but more often to smelt and refine it into forms that address the texture of the present.

I realize that my words will appear clumsy beside his beautifully drawn images, composed with as light a touch as a Chinese watercolor.

Archibald MacLeish, "Ars Poetica"

Quoting MacLeish in full also provides a guarantee of worthwhile reading—whatever the merits of my comments on the essay, readers will have the opportunity to become acquainted or reacquainted with a first-rate poem. Mostly, I share that view.

My first quotation is from page , the second from page Some of his characterizations have the gnomic suggestiveness of graffiti. Such pithy apothegms repay careful reflection. Butrym, ed. My quote is from page Klaus and Ned Stuckey-French, eds. Chris Arthur www. Book Reviews. Creative Nonfiction. Cultural Cross Sections. Current Events. Eye on Culture. Friday Lit Links. From the Road.

Translation of «ars poetica» into 25 languages

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Ars Poetica Summary and Analysis of Ars Poetica

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