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Saturday, May 7, 2022

'Poetry wishes to say'



“Journalism wishes to tell what it is that has happened everywhere as though the same things had happened for every man. Poetry wishes to say what it is like for any man to be himself in the presence of a particular occurrence as though only he were alone there.”  Archibald MacLeish

Born on this date in 1892, American poet, writer, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish was associated with the Modernist school of poetry and winner of a remarkable three Pulitzer Prizes for his poems.    MacLeish worked throughout his life to promote the arts, culture, and libraries. Among other impacts, he was the first Librarian of Congress to begin the process of naming what would become the United States Poet Laureate.   For Saturday’s Poem, and for Mother's Day, here is MacLeish’s,


            Poem in Prose


        This poem is for my wife.
        I have made it plainly and honestly:
        The mark is on it
        Like the burl on the knife.

        I have not made it for praise.
        She has no more need for praise
        Than summer has
        Or the bright days.

        In all that becomes a woman
        Her words and her ways are beautiful:
        Love's lovely duty,
        the well-swept room.

        Wherever she is there is sun
        And time and a sweet air:
        Peace is there,
        Work done.

        There are always curtains and flowers
        And candles and baked bread

        And a cloth spread
        And a clean house.

        Her voice when she sings is a voice
        At dawn by a freshening spring
        Where the wave leaps in the wind
        And rejoices.

        Wherever she is, it is now.
        It is here where the apples are:
        Here in the stars,
        In the quick hour.

        The greatest and richest good,
        My own life to live in,
        This she has given me --

        If giver could.

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