Art for Arts Sake Essay

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Art for Art’s Sake Archibald MacLeish’s imagist idea of art for art's sake is expressed in the poem “Ars Poetica”. The poem is about the art of poetry or what a poem should be. It is interesting that as MacLeish states what a poem should be, he illustrates it as well, by successfully using contradictions and images to convey the idea that good poetry uses powerful images. In the first section, he insists that a poem should be “silent”, “dumb” or wordless. This is in complete contrast with what a poem literally is; a poem is words and it cannot be silent. However, what he means is that a poem needs to be brief and direct. MacLeish appeals to the reader’s sense of touch, right, smell, hearing and taste. To convey this directness, MacLeish uses the image of fruit that can be directly fasted or felt without the need for extra words or explanations. Similarly, the silent image of “sleeve worn stone of casement ledges” evokes the sense of touch and along with it nostalgic memories of someone waiting and looking out by the window. Finally, the image of the soundless flight of birds touches the sense of sight. There is action yet it is a silent action. This is how a poem must act also, it should speak silently, which means, a poem shouldn’t brashly convey a message or meaning but should evoke emotion and impel imagination through the images the words create. In the second section, he uses the image of the moon to state that a poem should be “motionless in time”. The moon moves but its movement cannot be easily perceived. This could mean that good poems transcend time since they speak of universal experience. Yet each poem is rooted to a particular experience. What make them universal are the images used and the emotions evoked. Again, the poet uses imagery to illustrate the point. A poem leave memories, emotions, and feelings in our mind just like the rising moon. Its

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