MacLeish: The Lost Poet

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:02 AM

It seems deeply troubling — to say the least — that a poet like Archibald MacLeish is fading into the shadows of history. While 50 years ago he was nearing equality with Robert Frost, almost no one talks about MacLeish today. The “Ars Poetica” (see the present asisaid quote above) poet was so much more and yet few of his interesting works are readily available. Tonight, for example, I went on Google hoping to find two poems from Frescoes for Mr. Rockefeller's City, a witty critique of the excesses of capitalism and the failings of socialism put together… how often can you find both of those together? Searching on the web, you won't even find MacLeish's combination: at least as far as I can tell, it is not any place that Google has indexed.

I need to stop by Amazon and order the complete (or at least, near complete) collection of MacLeish's poems — it is only twelve bucks. But it is a shame that ordering such a collection is the only way people today can see some of these marvelous poems, political and otherwise.

In honor this is excellent “lost” poet, I encourage you to enjoy these two poems, his most famous:
  • Ars Poetica
  • You, Andrew Marvell (it helps on this one if you've read Marvell's To His Coy Mistress recently). Note the emphasis on time's “winged chariot” in Marvell's poem, then note exactly what the traveller in MacLeish's poem is doing. Masterful!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. I'll see if I can locate some of my more obscure favorites online and post link(s) to them.

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3 comments posted so far.

RE: MacLeish: The Lost Poet

I don’t think that it’s just MacLeish who’s disappearing (first time I’ve heard the name BTW) - poetry in its entirety seems to be.

Posted by Dave114 - Dec 08, 2004 | 10:58 PM- Location: Western Canada

RE: MacLeish: The Lost Poet

Good point, Dave. Poetry is rather unappreciated in an age that doesn’t really appreciate the written word. I was thinking the other day that I could not recall a single significant living poet.

I’ll have to post more about MacLeish here to get his name back in circulation. ;-) Maybe that’ll start a whole grassroots effort to save poesy. Well, maybe not, but I’ll do it anyway.

Posted by Timothy R. Butler - Dec 09, 2004 | 12:03 AM- Location: MO

Re: MacLeish: The Lost Poet

Thank you for that—do you have any criticisms on You, Andrew Marvell? I’m going crazy looking for them (English project).

Posted by Hannah Janoowalla - Mar 06, 2005 | 8:22 PM- Location: Passaic, NJ

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