Saturday, June 18


We poets struggle with Non-being to force it to yield Being;
We knock upon silence for an answering music.
We enclose boundless space in a square foot of paper;
We pour out deluge from the inch space of the heart.

-- Lu Chi

Consider what this means. The 'Being' which the poem is to contain derives from 'Non-being,' not from the poet. And the 'music' which the poem is to own comes not from us who make the poem but from the silence; comes in answer to our knock. The verbs are eloquent: 'struggle,' 'force,' 'knock.' The poet's labor is to struggle with the meaningless and silence of the world until he can force it to mean; until he can make the silence answer and the Non-being be. It is a labor which undertakes to 'know' the world not by exegesis or demonstration or proofs but directly, as a man knows apple in the mouth.

-- Archibald MacLeish Poetry and Experience