Percy MacKaye

(1897-1956 / United States)

Biography of Percy MacKaye

Percy MacKaye (1875–1956) was an American dramatist and poet.

He was born in New York City, New York. He studied at Harvard (1897), before returning to New York City (1900-4) to teach. He subsequently settled in Cornish, New Hampshire.

He wrote the plays The Canterbury Pilgrims in 1903, Sappho and Phaon in 1907, Jeanne D'Arc in 1907, The Scarecrow in 1908, Anti-Matrimony in 1910, and the poetry collection The Far Familiar in 1937. In 1950, MacKaye published The Mystery of Hamlet King of Denmark, or What We Will, a series of four plays written as prequels to William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

In the 1920s, MacKaye was poet in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He was the son of actor Steele MacKaye and brother of philosopher James MacKaye and of conservationist Benton MacKaye.

Percy MacKaye is considered to be the first poet of the Atomic Era because of his sonnet "The Atomic Law," which was published in the Christmas 1945 issue of The Churchman.

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The Automobile

Fluid the world flowed under us: the hills
   Billow on billow of umbrageous green
   Heaved us, aghast, to fresh horizons, seen
One rapturous instant, blind with flash of rills
And silver-rising storms and dewy stills
   Of dripping boulders, till the dim ravine
   Drowned us again in leafage, whose serene
Coverts grew loud with our tumultuous wills.

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