Daily Archives: May 7, 2009

Celebrating a Poet and a Librarian

Today is the birthday of poet and former Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish (1892 – 1982). In a life of letters that spanned nine decades, MacLeish was at different points a lawyer, librarian, editor and farmer. He won the Pulitzer Prize three times (1933, 1953, and 1959).

My favorite MacLeish poem is Ars Poetica, a hauntingly beautiful rumination on the nature of poetry itself. Our own collection includes a number of excellent biographies on MacLeish:

If you’re curious about the deeper meanings behind MacLeish’s work, look no further than Literature Resource Center, our wonderful literary criticism database.

I’ll leave the last words to Mr. MacLeish in this excerpt from Ars Poetica:

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.


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