Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 137

THE POET ON CAPITOL HILL
137
official himself; and he seems a little uneasy as to whether the
utterances of officials will everywhere be taken quite seriously. It
may be that he remembers that in the company he sometimes kept
before he removed to Washington ... such utterances were not
always well received; and that he wants now to dissociate himself
from that company.ma
Another reason suggests itself: the men to whom Mr. Mac–
Leish once pleaded for fellowship and remembrance had some
respect for "the Word" in another sense than that of the cloudy
capitalization he confers on it; whatever their individual sins and
failings, they never expressed themselves with quite so repulsive
and stomach-turning a .flatulence as Mr. MacLeish applied to them,
and the possibility naturally suggests itself that, his plea having
been wasted on their ears, he turned to other pursuits than the
tough ones of art. "Those who tell us the eternal poetry is the
poetry written about the feeling of being dreadfully alone....
Those with the High Standards.... Those with the Love of Poster–
ity.... Those who escape into mirrors"-all these have his "loud–
mouthed, disrespectful, horselaughing" challenge.G' He has found
better company, and more of it. The "unborn generations" who
once refused his fellowship are now his concern. He has taken
nations into his charge. He is back with Mankind as his companion.
It is no longer A MAN against the stars.
It
is Mankind:
that which has happened always to all men, not the particular
incidents of particular lives. The common, simple, earth-riding
ways of hands and feet and flesh against the enormous mysteries
of sun and moon, of time, of disappearance-and-their-place–
knowing-them-no-more. The salt-sweating, robust, passionate, and
at the last death-devoured lives of all men always. Man in the
invisible sea of time that drowns him. Man in the sun, on the
earth, under the branches-and, as he breathes, time sweeping
him away. Not the "great," the "leaders," the brass-voices, but
these men, these lives, and now death taking them. Not myself,
my soul, my glycerine-dropping eyes, but these unknown and
nameless men, anonymous under this sky, small in these valleys
and far-off and forever there.
66
No doubt everyone is affected in his own way by such trans–
ports as this. To at least one reader they always bring back a pas-
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