Listen to the land; A New England notebook
Listen to the land the profile of a nation in terms of its living language. This week a New England notebook. Men are free said D.H. Lawrence. When they're in a living homeland a living organic believing community. Active in the book feeling some unfulfilled perhaps unrealized purpose. This was the case with the authors of New England leading up to the Civil War. And this week we had to listen to the land in the words of some of those authors whose. Listened to the land is produced and recorded by station w h y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Now here is your host and narrator Richard S. Burdick.
Why 1850 New England with more alive than ever in the towns in the manufacturing centers but farming life had begun to decline. The old farmers were dying out too or so it seemed to those who love the country. The men whose hoeing was a sleight of hand who made their own ox yokes an ox helds chop their three cords of wood a day knew every medicinal herb that grew in field or stream. And knew how to select a piece of timber just under oak grove walnut that measured a given amount to cut it and load it. These tamers of the wilderness were vanishing from the land they were hewing their way to the west along the Great Lakes while the young men were turning to the cities learning to pronounce the word ban as been sometimes even been rising with the factories and the railroads. As well the advance in the town's increased region grew more soul contemplative novelists were appearing here and there picturing local miners with an interest in social relations that was
aroused by the spread of urban standards. One had to tolerate human nature first thing that Calvinism had scarcely encouraged. It was before one could find it amusing. Nuns wrote Van Wyck Brooks in his bullet surprise winning volume the flowering of New England published by E. B Dutton Company Incorporated a panoramic account of what has been termed the Golden Age of American literature mid-century cultural blossoming in Boston and Salem and Concord which is referred to as the New England run of signs one has only to scan a list of the writers of the period names such as Longfellow Whittier Holmes Hawthorne Thoreau Emerson Poe Emily Dickinson Whitman Melville and so on to realize the significance to our native literature their contributions. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the son of a minister who himself Jos the ministry is as a profession but he pursued this calling for that of a life of contemplation and writing. Most notably that which was
done in his dwelling by Walden Pond where among the piping frogs the rustling leaves in the solitude the sage of Concord addressed himself to the young people of his time and words that fell upon their ears like trumpet notes Emerson's style was lean and spare It was traded in this brief poem entitled fable which surely you once learned as a homework assignment. The Mountain and the squirrel had a quarrel and the former called The latter little prig bun replied You are doubtless very big but all sorts of weather must be taken in together to make up a year in a sphere. And I think it no disgrace to occupy my place if I am not so large as you. You are not so small as I am not half so spry. I'll not deny you make a very pretty squirrel dreich talents differ. All is well and wisely put if I cannot carry forests on my back. Neither can you crack a knot.
Not through choice but because of the next time we move on to this New England note book to a contemporary of Emerson's and Marie Wadsworth Longfellow. A humble romanticist of Cambridge with a deceptively ingenuous style actually Longfellow was an innovator in metres and rhymes and introduced new modes of feeling imbued with an ineffable personal magic. Here is my last few. Often I think of the beautiful town that is seated by the sea. Often in thought go up and down the pleasant streets of that dear old town and my youth comes back to me and a verse of a Lapland song is haunting my memory still a boy's will the wind's will and the thoughts of you are long long thoughts. I can see the shadowy lines of its trees and catch in sudden gleams the sheen of the far surrounding seas an island that with it has parodies of all my boyish dreams
and the burden of that old song that murmurs and whispers still a boy's will is the winds will and the thoughts of you. A long long thoughts. Remember the black wharves in the slips and the sea tides tossing free and the Spanish sailors with bearded lips in the beauty and mystery of the ships and the magic of the sea. The voice of that wayward song is singing and saying still boys will you the winds will and the thoughts of you. A long long thoughts. I remember the bulwarks by the shore in the fort upon the hill the sunrise gun with its hollow roar of the drum beat repeated or on or on the bugle wild and shrill and the music of that old song throbs in my memory still a boy's will is the winds will and the thoughts of youth a long long thoughts. I remember the sea fight far away our thunder or the tide and the Dead Sea
captains as they lay in their graves or looking the tranquil Bay where they in battle died in the sound of that mournful song goes through me with a thrill of joy and these will is the winds and the thoughts of you long long ones. I can see the breezy dome of Groves the shadows of Deering's woods and the friendships all of the early lovers come back with the Sabbath sound as of doves and quiet neighborhoods. The voice of that sweet old song it flutters and murmurs still boys will is the winds will and the thoughts of you. A long long thoughts. I remember the gleams and gloom of the dart across the schoolboys brain the song in the silence and the heart that in part are prophecies and in part our longings wild and vain and the voice that the full songs sings on and is never still boys
will is the winds will and the thoughts of youth are long long thoughts. 12 years younger than Longfellow was James Russell Lowell one of the most adroit and accomplished younger writers of the New England run of science. Lowell had command of all poetic forms owed song epigrams sonnet narrative poem the Elegy the idol. Despite this versatility and the gusto with which he wrote Lowell's poems were not memorable they were easy to forget. Yet in the moment of experience they were perceptive fluently beautiful as in this famous passage a passage to summer which occurs at the beginning of Lowell's well-known narrative poem deriving from Mallory's legends of the Holy Grail. The vision of sirloin fall with the familiar first line and what is so rare as a day in June.
Then if ever come perfect day then heaven tries the earth if it be in tune and over it softly her warm ear lays. Whether we look good whether we listen we hear life murmur or see it glisten every clod feels a stir of might and instinct within it that reaches and towers and groping blindly above it for light climbs to us all in grass and flowers. The flush of life may well be seen throwing back to the hills and valleys the cowslip startles in meadows green the buttercup catches the sun in its chalice and there's never a leaf nor a blade to mean to be some happy creature's power. That little birds that that is a door in the sun a tilt like a blossom among the leaves and lets his illumined being or run with the deluge of summer it receives his mate feels the eggs beneath their wings. And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings he sings to the
wide world and she to her nest in the nice ear of nature which song is the best. Now is the high tide of the year and whatever of life has a way come flooding back with a Ripley's cheer into every bear inlet and creek in the bay. Now the heart is so full that a drop over fills it. We are happy now because God wills it. No matter how barren the past may have been does enough for us now that the leaves are green which that in the warm shade and feel right well how the sap creeps up in the blossoms as well. We may shut our eyes but we cannot help knowing that the skies are clear and grass is growing. The breeze comes whispering in our ear the dandelions are blossoming near that maze has sprouted that streams are flowing but the river is blue in the sky that the robin is plastering his house hard by and if the breeze kept the good news black for other carriers we should not like we
could get it all by yon heifers lowing and hark how clear bold Chanticleer warmed with the new wind of the year tells all in his last be growing. Joy comes grief grows. We know not how. Everything is happy now everything is upward striving this is easy now for the heart to be true. As for grass to be green the skies to be blue. There's a natural way of living. Who knows where the clouds of flat in the unscarred heaven they leave no wait and they eyes forget the tears they have shed the heart forgets its sorrow and the soul part takes the seasons you and the sulfurous rips of passion and walleye deep beneath a silence pure and smooth like burnt out craters he would know what wonder if certain fall Nol remembered the keeping of his vow.
In March 1845 Henry David Thoreau then twenty eight build a hut on the pine slope above the shores of Walden Pond near Concord Mass. The hut was 10 feet by 15. It cost twenty eight dollars and twelve and a half cents all told. They live there for two years feeding themselves largely by beams and potatoes which he raised in fish and berries. He recorded the experience in the book Walden or life in the woods. One of the finest most sensitive collections of narrative essays in the English language passages and epigrams selected at random from thorough going are the women notebook. If the soul attend for a moment to its own infinity then and there is silence nothing is so sure to make itself known as the truth. But what else waits to be known.
It takes two to tell the true one to tell it and one to hear. The only way to speak the truth is to speak lovingly. Ego resists not at all will never surrender. He is the true artist whose life is as material. Is he not hospitable who entertains thoughts. Measure your health why you are simply with morning and spring. It is hard to part with one's body but no doubt it is easy enough to do without it when once it is gone. It is remarkable that the dead would lie everywhere under stones. A monument should at least be starry pointing to indicate whether the spirit is gone and not prostrate. Like a body it is deserted.
Here lies here lie. Why do they not sometimes write their rises. Is that a monument to the body only that is intended. Some weeks ago I commented a bought and read the poem Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes which is credited with saving the frigate Constitution from an ignominious watery grave. Holmes wrote the poem while a student of hard for Harvard. Little realizing the future as a writer that lay beyond his studies in law and medicine both in this country and in Europe. Here this week rather than selections from his novels or the breakfast table books is a selection from Holmes in an unaccustomed lighter mood almost a farcical kind of mood poem is called the height of the ridiculous. I wrote some lines once on a
time in a wondrous merry mood and thought as usual men would say their exceeding good. There was a queer very queer high laugh as I would die albeit in the general way a sober man a man I called my servant and he came. How kind it was of him to mind a slender man like me. He of the mighty limb that used to the printer I exclaimed and in my humorous way I added as a trifling jest. You'll be the devil to pay. It took the paper and I watched and saw him people with him at the first line he read his face was all upon the grin. He read the next. The grin grew broad and shot from ear to ear. He read the third a chuckling noise and I began to hear the Fords. He broke into a roar. The fifth is waist band split the six they burst five buttons off and tumbled in a fit. Ten days and nights would sleep was on I watch that wretched man. And since I never dared to write as funny as I can.
In Pittsfield Massachusetts where I was born and raised I used to pass the hawthorn house where they said Nathaniel Hawthorne build many volumes of his notebooks and I used to wonder if perhaps the scarlet letter might have been written there because I just. Become acquainted with an About that time. Well it wasn't. It was written in Salem Massachusetts three years before he moved to Lenox my house which is six miles south of Pittsfield where he also wrote Tanglewood tales telling of a spot where he and his children went for picnics Tanglewood of course is now internationally known as the location of the Berkshire music festival. But I was talking about Hawthorne in the scarlet letter in the third chapter of Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. This in the House of Seven Gables are considered the masterpieces of this brooding and critical spirit. Mr Prime is standing before the assembled crowd beside the prison on the
platform of the pillory with her baby in her arms and wearing a rich dress with a scarlet A embroidered on its bosom. Her husband just arrived without notice to her in among the crowd. And this memorable scene follows. When he found the eyes of Hester Prine fastened on his own and saw that she appeared to recognize him he slowly and calmly raised his finger made a gesture with it in the air and laid it on his lips then touching the shoulder of a townsman who stood next to him he addressed him in a formal and courteous manner. I pray your goods are that he was this woman. And wherefore she said up to public shame you must needs be a stranger in this region friend or else you would surely have heard of Mistress Esther pride and her evil doings. You have raised a great scandal I promise you and godly master Dimsdale church yonder woman sir you must know it was the wife of a certain learned man English by birth who would long grow old in arms to
Dime whence some good diamond gone he was minded to cross over and cast in his lot with dust of Massachusetts. This purpose the son his wife before him remaining himself to look after some necessary affairs marry goods or in some two years or less that the woman has been a dweller here in Boston. No tidings of come of this learned gentleman master Prine and his young wife looking being left to her own guidance. On I consider views of the stranger with a bitter smile so learned a man as you speak of should have learned this too in his books and who by your favor sir may be the father of yonder babe. It is some three or four months old I should judge which Mr Bryan is holding in our arms. Of a truth from that matter many of the riddles in the Daniel who shall expound it as yet a wanting not to absolutely refuse it to speak of the magistrates have laid their heads together in vain or adventure the guilty ones stand looking on at this sad
spectacle of unknown of mind and forgetting that God sees him. The learned man observe the stranger with another smile should come himself to look into the mystery. It behooves him well if he be still in life. Responded the townsmen. Now a good server are Massachusetts magistracy be thinking themselves that this woman is youthful and fair and doubtless was strongly tempted to her fall and that moreover it is most likely her husband may be at the bottom of the sea. They have not been bold to put in force the extremity of our right just logon ster. The penalty thereof is death but in their great mercy and tenderness of heart they have doomed Mr Prime to stand only a space of three hours on the platform of the pillory and then and thereafter for the remainder of her natural life where a mark of shame upon her bosom. A wise sentence remarked the stranger gravely bowing his head.
It has already been noticed that directly over the platform on which Hester Prynne stood was a kind of balcony or open gallery appended to the meeting house here to witness the scene which we are describing so that Governor Bellingham himself with four sergeants about his chair the other eminent characters by whom the chief ruler was surrounded were distinguished by a dignity of mien belonging to a period when the forms of authority were felt to possess the sacredness of divine institutions. They were doubtless good men. Justin stayed but out of the whole human family. It would not have been easy to select the same number of wise and virtuous persons who should be less capable of sitting in judgment on an erring woman's heart and disentangling its measure of good and evil. The voice which had called her attention was that of the Reverend and famous John Wilson the oldest clergyman of Boston a great scholar and withal a man of kind and genial spirit. The last attribute a lever had been less carefully developed
than his intellectual gifts and he looked like the darkly engraved portraits which we see prefixed to old volumes of sermons. Esther Prine the clergyman I'm struggling with my own brother here under whose preaching of the word you have been privileged to sit here Mr. Wilson laid his hand on the shoulder of a pale young man beside him. I am sought I say to persuade those godly you that he should do with you here in the face of have been to me for these wise and upright rulers. But say you do it once again by the detail to be the hour ah that you will deal with us boys when it was all there was a murmur among the dignified and reverent occupants of the balcony and Governor Bellingham give expression to its purport. Good Master Dimsdale said he the responsibility of this woman's soul I greatly would you it behooves you would therefore to exhort her to repentance. I took confession as a proof and consequence thereof.
The directness of the field drew the eyes of the whole front upon the Rev. Mr. Dimsdale a young clergyman who had come from one of the great English universities running all the learning of the age into our wild forest land. He was a person a very striking aspect with a quite lofty and impending brow large brown melancholy eyes and a mouth which unless he forcibly compressed it was apt to be tremulous expressing both nervous sensibility and a vast power of self-restraint. Speak to the woman my brother of Mr. Wilson. It was a moment or Saul exhorter to confess the truth. The Rev. Mr. Dimsdale bent his head in silent prayers it seemed and then came forward. Mr. Prime that he leading of the balcony and looking down steadfastly in the world eyes what this good man says and serious the accountability under which I labor if thou
fearless to be for thy soul's peace and not by earthly punishment will thereby be made more effective will to salvation I jarred thee to speak out the name of Life fellow sinner and fellow sufferer. We don't silent for many mistaken pity and tenderness for him. Well believe me Hester though he were to step down ramai place and stand there beside the on Die pedestal of shame yet better were it so and to hide a guilty heart through life what can die silence do for it and accept it. Tempt him compelling as it were to add hypocrisy to sin. Heaven have granted the opening nominee and but there are by now missed work out an Open triumph over the double what Indian the sorrow without. Take heed how thou deniers to him. But John stuff not the courage to grasp it for himself the better about a wholesome Cup that is now presented to the eye lips.
The young pastor's voice was to miss the sweet rich deep and broken the feeling that it manifested caused it to vibrate within all hearts and brought the listeners into one accord of sympathy so powerful seeing the minister's appeal that the people could not believe but that Hester Prynne would speak out the guilty name or else with the guilty one himself and whatever higher lonely place he stood would be drawn forth by an inward necessity and compelled to ascend the scaffold. Esther shook her head. When one transgressed not big on the limits of Heaven's mercy rod the Rev. Mr. Wilson more harshly than before. Speak up name that done by repentance. They have failed to protect a scarlet letter off my breast. Never. Replied Mr. Pruyn looking not at Mr. Wilson but of a deep and troubled eyes of the younger clergyman. It is too deeply branded. You cannot take it off and would that I might endure his eye going to you
as well as mine. Speak one right another voice in the crowd coldly and sternly and proceeding from the crowd about the scaffold. Speak and get knocked out of father. I will not speak. Answered Hester turning pale as death but responding to the voice which she surely recognized. And my child must seek a Heavenly Father. You shall never know an earthly one. It will not be remembered Mr. Dimsdale who leaning over the balcony that awaited the result of his appeal. You now drew back with a long respiration. Wondrous right and generosity of a woman's heart. She will not speak.
We cannot leave our New England notebook without turning to a page or two devoted to that curious withdrawn hurrying likeness who lived in the huge foreboding house in Amherst Massachusetts. Miss Emily Dickinson her shimmering fairy like poems than with books as written that they moved like bees upon a raft of air. And yet behind them one felt an energy of mind and spirit that only the rarest poets possessed. Where others merely glowed. She was incandescent. Here are five brief Dickinson points from the notebook. Aspiration we never know how high we are. We are called to rise and then if we are true to plan our statures touch the skies the heroism we were a sight would be a daily thing. Did not our souls the cubit Swart for fear to be a king
portrait. A face devoid of love or grace. Hateful hard successful face to face with which a stone would feel as thoroughly at ease as were they old acquaintances first time thrown together. Experience I stepped from plank to plank so slowly and cautiously the stars above my head I felt about my feet the seat I knew not but the next would be my final inch. This gave me that precarious gait. Some called experience a poem numbered 9 15. I got so I could hear his name without tremendous gain. That stopped some sation in my soul and thunder in the room. I got so I could walk across that angle in the floor where he turned so
and I turned. How in all our sin who tore. I got so I could stir the box in which is letters grew without any forcing in my breath and Staples driven through the dimly recollect the grace. I think they called it God. One bearing the number eight looked back on time with kindly eyes. Doubtless that is because I was softly sinks his trembling son in human nature's Wes. You are. And so one closes his New England note book with aside from the many pages yet
- Listen to the land
- A New England notebook
- Producing Organization
- WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program focuses on the wave of American literature that came out of New England in the 19th century.
- Series Description
- America's literary heritage is explored through readings of short stories, poems, folklore, journalism and legends. The series is narrated by Richard S. Burdick.
- Media type
: Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886
Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Voegeli, Don
Writer: Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882
Writer: Thoreau, Henry David, 1817-1862
Writer: Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-54-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Listen to the land; A New England notebook,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 29, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-v11vk23j.
- MLA: “Listen to the land; A New England notebook.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-v11vk23j>.
- APA: Listen to the land; A New England notebook. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-v11vk23j