Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 141

most of his life without the need or protection of a faith. The pri–
vate citizen gets along with only moderate discomfort under such
privation, but a poet requires his points of reference, a center of
belief. Next to humanitarianism and nationalism, there is no faith
so convenient, impressive, and heartening as faith in a war. It
simplifies a great many difficulties. Good and evil suddenly become
as concrete as black and white. Human beings become friends or
enemies. Action is the order of the day. Thinking becomes sec–
ondary, or an impertinence. The flagging inspiration of authors,
like the sagging lines on business charts, the boredom of life in
general, and the listless fatigue of wage-slaves, finds itself picking
up. Poets soon learn the value of this contagion; Miss Millay,
though slightly slower than Mr. MacLeish, has been quick to repair
her fortunes and join the cause.
Skeptics or persons with critical
reservations are at once labeled fascist sympathizers or Fifth
Columnists, with all the quick-trigger alertness to America's honor
of a Walter Winchell trying to live down his former alliance with
Broadway gangster circles. The fact that this time the potential
enemy represents a new dark age is, after all, incidental. The latest
enemy, danger, or war is always the worst and always provides an
excitement and aggrandisement of personal importance greater
than the last.
Mr. MacLeish's spiritual deflation of the Twenties, his fond
brooding on the bliss of an infinite nothingness, were deceptive.
They were current fashion then and he made the most of them, but
he was always uncomfortable in the presence of the timeless inter–
stellar immensities. Art, Love, Action, and Human Brotherhood
soon took their place, and now it is Democracy, Liberty, Anti–
Fascism, and America. The passionate values these words have
been given by a world disaster compel Americans to hearken to
Mr. MacLeish's message as they have never hearkened before.
But as we recali the creeds he has sung in the past, the altars he
has raised to beliefs and unbelief, we begin to wonder how long
his present fervor will last, how much of his heart is in it, and if
some day this faith too may not yield to something more in con–
formity with the latest headlines.
As our memory returns to the gospels he expounded in bygone
days, it recalls that in 1923 he made his first and most sensational
revelation of the hope by which the world was to be redeemed. In
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