Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 35

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 35


This is the grave of Archibald MacLeish.

2016-02-12 13.36.25

Born in Illinois, MacLeish grew up rich, went to Harvard, served in World War I, and went to law school. But his career took a sharp left turn in the 1920s, when he decided to commit himself to a literary life and became part of the American expatriate community in Paris. He moved significantly to the left, even as he was writing for Fortune, and became an important part of the Popular Front in the 1930s, although one willing to criticize communist actions as well. He committed himself to fusing populism and nationalism, turning his back on his expatriate years for a new commitment to American ideals in a leftist light. FDR spent actual political capital naming MacLeish the Librarian of Congress because the poet was known for his communist sympathies and received significant Republican opposition. He became assistant director of the Office of War Information during World War II. After the war, he became a target for anticommunists, but this did not much affect his career. He taught at Harvard from 1949 until he retired in 1962. He died in 1982.

If you want a good chuckle, you can read MacLeish’s Conservapedia entry. HE WORKED FOR THE SAME LAW FIRM AS ALGER HISS!!!!

Also, just to point out how hard I work to please you people and the sheer physicality of blogging, note that I had to drive up a rural country dirt road into the mountains to find this. Then the cemetery was covered in 6-10 inches of snow. I had to do some investigation to figure out what part of the cemetery this was in and then went and started moving snow off of likely areas. The whole thing really reinforced my masculinity.

Archibald MacLeish is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Conway, Massachusetts.

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  • Vance Maverick

    Is any of his poetry any good? (Lee?)

    There’s an odd episode in Dylan’s Chronicles where they start some work on a theater piece together, but apparently nothing came of that.

    • The Temporary Name

      Is any of his poetry any good?


      • Vance Maverick

        Can you be any more specific? “Ars Poetica” ends with a classic sentence, I’ll give you that.

        • slothrop1
          • Vance Maverick


        • It’s kind of self-refuting, however, since the poem itself is fairly didactic.

          Other good ones include The End of the World, You Andrew Marvell, Mother Gooses Garland — they’re easy to find.

    • Yes. A lot of it is very good. He served in WWI alongside my grandfather, BTW, who was an English professor and who introduced me to MacLeish when I was very young. I post MacLeish’s “Memorial Rain” every memorial day on one of my own blogs. He was one of the leading American poets of his time, also wrote a Broadway play in verse based on the Book of Job which was a great success.

      Cheops, to sail eternity, built him a boat,
      A real one, seaworthy, solid cedar,
      With a heavy weather prow to breast the foamy surge of heaven
      And throw the fiery stars about . . .

      • Vance Maverick

        Thanks, this is helpful. I certainly knew he was successful in his day, but it’s useful to have specific recommendations.

  • Warren Terra

    Blogging as a physical fitness regime!

  • rm

    That’s a lot of snow for June. Imagine how hard it would be to visit in winter.

  • PotemkinMetropolitanRegion

    I (infrequently) go to Conservapedia for a laugh.

    At this elite high school with 1,200 students he was just 1 of 3 black students, and couldn’t make the starting lineup of the state champion basketball team his senior year.

    ~Entry on Barack Obama


    • Warren Terra

      I’m still upset that bunch of modernist vandals refused to respect tradition and so didn’t name their site Conservapaedia.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        That’s all furrin and pompous. The internet is full of furriners and libruhls! That’s why they needed the Conservapedia — because the entire world is doin’ it wrong!

        Also, remember, for all of their blovation like Sam the American Eagle about Western Culture and our Greco-Roman cultural heritage, they don’t actually want Greeks or Italians in their neighbhorhood.

        • postmodulator

          Don’t tell my dad. He thinks they think we’re white.

  • LFC

    Wasn’t sure or at least was beginning to wonder whether Erik’s visits were actual physical visits, but the post answered that.

    I have a vague recollection of reading MacLeish’s play JB in school, but don’t remember the play much. The last line in Ars Poetica is famous and that plus maybe one or two other lines from that poem is all I cd recite of his work w/o looking it up. (Which I suppose is more than I cd say for a lot of poets.)

  • dp

    That rarest of creatures, a Loomis grave visit of someone who wasn’t a worthless human being!

  • so-in-so

    I recall hearing him as a commentator on (I think) PBS. Had no idea who he was at the time, but I must have paid some attention for that nugget to rise to surface at the mention of his name.

  • AB

    You would think Conservapedia would award MacLeish points for his support of Ezra Pound, who (qua Fascist) was a conservative, by current American standards at least.

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