Archibald MacLeish Drama Analysis
A critic observed in 1910 that “we cannot expect a rebirth of the poetic drama until our poets turn playwrights”; such an extended generic transition is obvious in the career of Archibald MacLeish. After publishing two early volumes of verse, he wrote two embryonic verse plays in the mid-1920’s, The Pot of Earth and Nobodaddy, works often regarded as long poems. MacLeish himself included The Pot of Earth in his first anthology, Poems, 1924-1933 (1933). All of this creative output resulted from his five-year sojourn in Paris.
Nobodaddy, the title of which came from William Blake’s derisory name for the Old Testament God of vengeance and mystery, was written before The Pot of Earth but published a year after it. A short philosophical verse play in three acts, sometimes classed as a poetic essay or closet drama, Nobodaddy treats the Genesis story of the first family and prefigures MacLeish’s use in J. B. of modernized Old Testament material to illuminate universal human dilemmas. In Nobodaddy, Cain and Abel struggle as adversaries, representing the conflict between the independent mind and the dogma of orthodoxy, a theme to which the poet would return in J. B., three decades later.
The Pot of Earth
The Pot of Earth is also significant as a precursor of J. B., for here too MacLeish...
(The entire section is 3933 words.)
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