“The Conquistador” 1933

On May 3, 1933, American poet Archibald MacLeish won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his epic work, “The Conquistador”.   The poem is in the voice of Bernal Diaz, an old man who in his youth was a soldier with Cortez’s invading army in the war against the Aztec empire.  To research the background for the poem, MacLeish traveled through Mexico, retracing Cortez’s route. A review by The Poetry Foundation notes that, “In Montezuma, Cortez, and Diaz, the poem offers three figures—god, hero, and man—who share the reader’s attention and good will and who are examined in an ironic context of human blood and natural beauty, greed for gold and sun-worship, political intrigue and heroic quest.”  (Please visit www.PoetryFoundation.org, and download their free app.  It rocks!)