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Ars Poetica

A poem that explains the “art of poetry,” or a meditation on poetry using the form and techniques of a poem. Horace’s Ars Poetica is an early example, and the foundation for the tradition. While Horace writes of the importance of delighting and instructing audiences, modernist ars poetica poets argue that poems should be written for their own sake, as art for the sake of art. Archibald MacLeish’s famous “Ars Poetica” sums up the argument: “A poem should not mean / But be.” See also Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism,” William Wordsworth’s Prelude, and Wallace Stevens’s “Of Modern Poetry.”

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