Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 140

the war, sat hack waiting for the hopes of the world to realize
themselves in terms of a better, a more generous, a more demo–
cratic life.... And when they failed to materialize of their own
motion, we pitied ourselves and told ourselves our sacrifices had
been made in vain. The fact was in 1917-and the fact is today–
that the defense of this democracy against an attack which would
destroy its institutions is alone, and of itself. a cause worth
fighting for.
Yet the fact is also that in 1935 he said: "I would do everything
in my power to prevent the United States from going to war under
It is hopeless to try to cope with Mr. MacLeish's statements
when those of one year are set against those of another; it is often
impossible to clarify his contradictions or ambiguities within a
single essay.
But there is no mistaking the general tendency of
his faiths, conversions, and moral veerings during the past twenty
years. Unkind critics have suggested that he has himself been a
prime example of the "literary 'irresponsible,' who feels that he
can choose his moods as if they were suits from a well stocked
and that "there isn't anybody smarter than Archie
MacLeish when it comes to knowing how to pick out and fall into
a good berth, or how to jump onto band wagons."
But there is
perhaps a more poignant explanation of his case, one that makes
his plight symptomatic of the spiritual condition of our times and
his personal influence-now given power by his official rank in the
nation-a remarkable index of the excitements that will probably
land us in war more speedily than any other agency.
When Mr. MacLeish gave his loudmouthed horselaugh to
those who write poetry "about the feeling of being dreadfully
alone" he may have been bad-mannered but he was not insincere.
He is obviously the type of man (the type is legion in our age)
whose mortal dread is the fear of becoming isolated from his props
and stays in society, from the great inclusive passions and enthu–
siasms of the human mass, from the protective embrace of a ruling
idea, system, government, or cause. His favorite images are those
of community, armies, races, and tribes. The loneliness of "You,
Andrew Marvell" was only a passing phase-Riviera despair
the Twenties-but even that gave him the companionship of earth,
skies, planets, night,' and nothingness. Having come into the world
with the rootless and liberated privileges of the well-to-do, he spent
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