Essay: Ars Poetica (Archibald Macleish)

1916 words - 8 pages

The narrator of Ars Poetica conveys an insightful discourse on poetry. It comprises the narrator’s impression, interwoven with certain elements of poetry, on what a poem should be and how it should be interpreted. This will be explored though analysis of the structure and interpretation of the language used in the poem to state what the narrator’s view on poetry comprises and how it translates to the reader.If the Latin title of the poem is translated into English it would mean “The Art of Poetry” or “On the Nature of Poetry” (Anon, Ars Poetica). The title is borrowed from the treatise on poetics, Epistula Ad Pisones, authored by Horace in the first century A. D. (Anon, Ars Poetica). Ars Poetica (Anon: 2008) further states that Ben Johnson identified three conclusive quotes when he translated the original work: The first quote, "bonus dormitat Homerus" ("even Homer nods") indicates that poets can make continuity errors. The second quote, "ut pictura poesis" ("as is painting so is poetry") means that poetry equally conveys interpretation and subsequently meaning equal to or similar to art. The third quote, "in medias res" ("into the middle of things") describes an archaic narrative technique.The topography of the poem strongly resembles the structure of a ballade and an ode. The lines in the poem are divided into three stanzas consisting of eight lines each (Anon, Ballade). It is thus a ballade. If the reader applies the theory of an ode obtained from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Anon, Ode), the first stanza assumes the role of the strophe, the second stanza the antistrophe and the last stanza is the epode. It is important to note that the poem does not exclusively ascribe to all the characteristics of neither an ode nor a ballade: The poem lacks an ode’s characteristic refrain at the end of each stanza whilst the structure of the poem lacks the typical, consistent metre and specific rhyme scheme associated with a ballade. With reference to the title, the reader can assume that two revered classical poetic forms – the ballade and ode – are combined to demonstrate poetic skill, but more importantly to indicate a modernised version of a classical approach to poetic structure (Anon, Ars Poetica).The infused structure of the ballade and ode focus attention on the second stanza where most of the deviations in the poem occur. These deviations serve to illustrate a compelling purpose. According to In medias res (Anon, In medias res), the In medias res technique reveals the story only from the middle of the narrative structure. When the reader considers the second stanza, the In medias res technique is clearly revealed as the narrator starts to tell a story in the middle of the poem which concludes in the second-last couplet of the last stanza: The narrator describes the motion of the moon’s cycle from when the “moon climbs”, then “releases” the “night-entangled trees”...

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