Archibald MacLeish (1892–1982) was an American poet, playwright, and political leader. His epic poem Conquistador (1932) and Collected Poems (1952) won Pulitzer Prizes, as did the verse play J. B. (1958.)
Born in Glencoe, Illinois, MacLeish attended Yale University and Harvard Law School. After three frustrating years practicing law in Boston, he went to Paris to concentrate on poetry. In Paris, he was strongly influenced by Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot and did his best writing there, producing The Pot of Earth (1925,) Streets in the Moon (1926,) and Einstein (1929.)
MacLeish returned to America in 1928, and spent most of the 1930s as a journalist for the Fortune magazine. He was appointed Librarian of Congress in 1939. As a confidante of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he took key public offices, including serving as assistant secretary of state in 1944. From 1949 until his retirement in 1962, he was a professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard.
MacLeish is also noted for his works of literary criticism, including Poetry and Experience (1961,) Poetry and Journalism (1958) and The Dialogues of Archibald MacLeish and Mark Van Doren (1964.)