MacLeish, Archibald

MacLeish, Archibald məklēshˈ [key], 1892–1982, American poet and public official, b. Glencoe, Ill., grad. Yale, 1915, LL.B Harvard, 1919. He practiced law for only three years and during the 1920s lived mostly in France. There he produced several volumes of verse, including The Pot of Earth (1925) and The Hamlet of A. MacLeish (1928). Conquistador (1932; Pulitzer Prize) is a narrative poem about the conquest of Mexico. MacLeish returned to the United States in the 1930s; the volume of poetry Frescoes for Mr. Rockefeller's City (1933) and the verse play for radio The Fall of the City (1937) reveal his deepening concern with the rise of Fascism in the world. He was librarian of Congress (1939–44) and undersecretary of State (1944–45). From 1949 to 1962 he was Boylston professor of rhetoric at Harvard. Among his later works are the verse drama J. B. (1958; Pulitzer Prize), a retelling of the story of Job in a modern setting; volumes of poetry including Collected Poems 1917–1952 (1952; Pulitzer Prize), The Wild Wicked Old Man (1968), The Human Season (1972), and Collected Poems, 1917–1982 (1985); a volume of prose, Riders on the Earth (1978), and a play, Scratch (1971), based on Stephen Vincent Benét's short story “The Devil and Daniel Webster.”

See his letters, ed. R. H. Winnick (1983); biography by S. Donaldson (1992); B. A. Drabeck and H. E. Ellis, ed., Archibald MacLeish (1986).

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