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By Leonard Unger

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His voice, moreover, did not have much in common with the self-conscious orotundity of Eliot's middle period (it had something in common with the Prufrockian tones), and he seldom undertook vocal productions such as dramatic monologues. Indeed, a lasting mark of MacLeish's work has been the weakness of ARCHIBALD MacLEISH / 5 the persona. At times the diction is remote from speech; at other times it may be close to speech but bare of individuality, diffuse, as though spoken by a chorus. For this reason, despite his partial debt to Eliot, MacLeish belongs not only outside of the Browning-Tennyson traditions of monologue but also outside of the American schools which have stemmed from those, the diverse movements represented by E.

Yet it was probably just as well that he aimed his criticism expressly against Laforgue and Eliot and only lumped his Hamlet implicitly with theirs; for really there is a difference in kind between their pessimism and his own in that poem. Quite simply, their pessimism is social, whereas his is cosmic. What Laforgue and Eliot (in his early poetry) found fault with was the special uncongeniality of life for the special personae in their poetry. What MacLeish complains of in his Hamlet is the injustice of the universe.

The first volumes, Songs for a Summer's Day (1915) and Tower of Ivory (1917), display a lively interest in verse forms as such. The former contains sonnets only; but the latter includes, as well, a number of stanzaic exercises and one precocious dramatic piece, "Our Lady of Troy" (which, despite a Swinburnean promise in its tide, is akin rhetorically to Jonson's humor plays). The sonnets in Tower of Ivory show the inevitable debt to Shakespeare; some of them, the best indeed, could only have derived from the "soldier" sonnets of Rupert Brooke.

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