Archibald MacLeish

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Archibald MacLeish Biography

Archibald MacLeish was an American poet, writer, and the Librarian of Congress. He is associated with the Modernist school of poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.

Early Years

MacLeish was born in Glencoe, Illinois. His father, Scottish-born Andrew MacLeish, worked as a dry goods merchant. His mother, Martha (née Hil ...

Archibald MacLeish Poems

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit


The End Of The World

Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting

An Eternity

There is no dusk to be,
There is no dawn that was,
Only there's now, and now,
And the wind in the grass.


A year or two, and grey Euripides,
And Horace and a Lydia or so,
And Euclid and the brush of Angelo,
Darwin on man, Vergilius on bees,

Dr. Sigmund Freud Discovers The Sea Shell

Science, that simple saint, cannot be bothered
Figuring what anything is for:
Enough for her devotions that things are
And can be contemplated soon as gathered.

Archibald MacLeish Quotes

11 November 2014

Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, there is no reason either in football or in poetry why the two should not meet in a man's life if he has the weight and cares about the words.

11 November 2014

We are as great as our belief in human liberty—no greater. And our belief in human liberty is only ours when it is larger than ourselves.

11 November 2014

To see the earth as we now see it, small and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the unending night—brothers who see now they are truly brothers.

11 November 2014

What happened at Hiroshima was not only that a scientific breakthrough ... had occurred and that a great part of the population of a city had been burned to death, but that the problem of the relation of the triumphs of modern science to the human purposes of man had been explicitly defined.

11 November 2014

What is more important in a library than anything else—than everything else—is the fact that it exists.

Archibald MacLeish Comments

Miguel Pla 08 December 2018

Dear Caroline Mintzer Stephen Colbert was quoting from Macleish's J.B: a Play in Verse: I heard upon his dry dung heap That man cry out who cannot sleep: ‘If God is God He is not good, If God is good He is not God; Take the even, take the odd, I would not sleep here if I could Except for the little green leaves in the wood And the wind on the water.’

2 0 Reply
Caroline Mintzer 02 December 2018

Stephen Colbert quoted Macleish recently - recall it was about Job and one of the last lines was having to do with the beauty of the wind on the water. Can you find that poem for me?

4 0 Reply
James A. Legel 18 June 2016

A lot of what A.M. said was not just Poems but Intellectual Quotations... HE WAS A.O.K. !

2 1 Reply
Ahme Ahmed 07 November 2008

please i want Archibald MacLeish ars poetica analysis please

9 4 Reply