By Leonard Unger
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Extra resources for American Writers, Volume III
That this device was intentional is evident from the special use of the colon as a divider; it is made to separate phrases of all kinds. The elements which are thus compounded stand in any order: logic seems not to be in question, since free association controls largely. -J. Perse dominates the larger framework of the poem, affecting the shape of its "grand sweep," still another influence, that of the Ezra Pound of the Cantos, 14 I AMERICAN often prevails at clb&e quarters. The arbitrary juxtaposition of "significant" details is Poundian.
And in "Salute" MacLeish hails the sun, dayspring and midday, as if to assert the preeminence of his symbol of the West. " His style tends toward greater impersonality as, following Perse, he cultivates dissociated concrete images of immense but vague significance. One very successful instance of this practice occurs in "Epistle to Be Left in the Earth," where its gnomic qualities suit the speaker's list of specific phenomena unreduced to abstract classification. Conquistador (1932) is a long poem but not an epic, though of epic magnitude in theme, nor yet a chronicle, though based on an account of the Spanish rape of Mexico, The True History of the Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Diaz del Castillo.
Blake's "Ah! Sun-flower" is analogous; in MacLeish's "Thunderhead" the physics of lightning symbolizes an aspect of conjugal behavior; in; "Starved Lovers" chrysanthemums symbolize sensuality; in "The Linden Branch" a green bough is metaphorically a musical instrument playing silent music. The newness of this effect consists in the way whole poems are now built round it, as Emily Dickinson's or (using symbol rather than metaphor) Yeats's often are.
American Writers, Volume III by Leonard Unger