05 March 2009

Q: If that same pirate were then to recite a 20th-century poem about the nature of poetry, what would it be?

by Cecily
Language Hat:
Archibald MacLeish famously ended his 1926 "Ars Poetica" with "A poem should not mean/ But be." I learn from Peter Howarth in the LRB that Robert Frost put a nasty spin on this in a notebook entry: "A poem shouldn't mean, it should be mean." So much for the grandfatherly figure maundering about roads not taken, so beloved of careless skimmers of anthologies.

Mean poems!

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