New England anthology; Archibald MacLeish
The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. The Literary Society of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst presents New England anthology and expression and poetry of the American concept of the free man by poets who make use of the New England scene background or heritage. This is the first program in our series. Freedom may be expressed in many media. In man's political institutions in his artistic forms in his religious images in whatever realm. Man touch is an apparent paradox arises between freedom and form a paradox requiring resolution. It may be possible that only in a point as Paul M.. Does one find purely freedom that flows in form and still is free. The images the poet explores may give shape to a concept of freedom as operative in areas of the
imagination. Or in the realm of action. Among the points you will hear one will speak of man's freedom to transcend the boundaries of environmental necessity. Another of the freedom to choose the harder path. Or still another of the freedom to praise God. The part you will hear on this series is often will center there Paul I'm zonin image which is peculiar to New England. But they make of that image a symbol for all of his most vigorous in the wider American tradition and ultimately in the human spirit. We realize that no poet does constrained by the region of his birth or address. Poets move in a universal sphere though their images have always had a local habitation and a name. Thus Toral is expression of dissatisfaction with the politics of Concord Massachusetts in the mid 19th century is echoed in Gandhi's writings and action in twentieth century India. And so to the greatest of the German poets
concerned with the relationship between liberty and law informs the pages of such an American thinker as Ralph Waldo Emerson. This universal concern with the relationship between liberty and law continues to absorb men's minds. Among the most articulate of modern spokesman in this tradition is Archibald MacLeish. Mr. MacLeish has written with special vigor of his conception of the American heritage and its roots in the New England pioneering spirit. Although his birthplace is Illinois his birth right is New England his ancestral home. Mr. MacLeish attended Preparatory School in Connecticut and received his higher education at Yale University and Harvard Law School for many years his permanent address has been Conway Massachusetts since 1949 he's been Boston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard. In recognition of his significance as a poetic spokesman for American democracy. He was appointed
Librarian of Congress in 1939. Throughout his career he has been honored as poet and protector of human rights. Mr. MacLeish it's a great pleasure to have you on our program. As you know this series is concerned with freedom as the poet sees it but freedom we realize is a very general concept. It is not simple. It presents dilemmas. It does indeed present dilemmas. The longing for freedom is really a longing for integrity isn't it to be oneself. But there's also another desire the desire to conform to belong to something fixed established firm and desire we see all around us in this country now. Both are powerful and particularly perhaps here Americans feel the longing for the old and established as powerfully as they feel the longing for the new Winfrey. Indeed I think they feel them both more powerfully than most people's because their world is new and they are free or can be if they choose. I
tried to put this in a poem called The American letter. It goes as the wind is east but the hot weather continues blue and no clouds the sound of the leaves thin dry like the wrestling of paper scored across but the slate shrill screech of the locusts. The tossing of Pines is the low sound in the wind running the wild carrot smell of the burning sun. Why should I think of the dolphins that copper the Maly. Why should I see in my mind the thought sail of the hill over San Tropez and your hand on the teller. Why should my heart be troubled with palms steel. I am neither a soul boy or a Chinese official sent to second in power for some lower Yang dish. This is my own land my sky my mountain. This is not the humming pines and the
surf and the sound of the fan blown nor poor crow in the dusk and the harbor floating the motion of the ship and the seed round star. I am neither poach you we enter another after far from home in a Strange Land. Daft for the talk of his own sort and the taste of his letter says this land is my native land and yet die am stick for home. But the red roofs and the olives and the foreign words and the smell of the sea fall. How can a wise man have two countries. How can a man have the earth and the wind and want a land far off an alien smelling a palm trees and the yellow gorse at noon and along comes. It is a strange thing to be an American. Neither an old house it is with the air tasting of hunger in the sun returning year after year to the same door and the churn making the same
sound in the cool of the kitchen. Mother it is son's wife and the place to sit mocked in the dusk by the worn stone at the well head that the eyes like each other's eyes and the skull is shaped to the same fault in the hand sameness. Neither of place it is not a blood name. America is west and the wind blowing. America is a great word in the snow away a white bird the rain falling the shining thing in the mind the girls call. America is neither a land nor a people a word shape it is a wind sweep. America is alone many together many of one mouth of one breast breast as one and none brothers among them only the taut speech and the aped tongue. America's alone and the gulls calling. It is a strange thing to be an American.
It is strange to live in the high world in the stare of The Naked Sun in the stars as our bones live. Men in the old lands how was by their rivers they built their towns in the veils in the earths shelter. We first inhabit the world we dwell in the heart forth on the open curve of a continent sea is divided from sea by the day for the dawn rides the low East with this many hours. First to the capes then to the shorelines. Now the blue Appalachians faint of the day rise their willows shudder with light and the long Ohio the lakes scatter the low sun the prairie's slide out of dark in the eddy of clean air the smoke goes up from the high plains of Wyoming the steep Sierras arise the struct foam flames of the winds here on the far Pacific. Already the noon leans to the eastern cliff the elms
darkened the door and the dust have a lie looks. It is strange to sleep in the bare stars and to die on an open land where a few buried before us from the New Earth the dead return no more. It is strange to be born of no race and no people. In the old lands there are many together they keep the wise passed on the word spoken in common. They remember the dead with their hands their miles down. They answer each other with two words in their meeting. They live together in small things. They eat the same dish their drink is the same in their proverbs. Their youth is like their light in their ways of love. There are many men. There are always others beside them. Here it is one man and another and widen the darkening hills the faint smoke of the houses. Here is one man and the wind in the boughs
for our hearts are sick for the South Water the smell of the Gores comes back to our night thought. We are sick at heart for the red roofs and the olives. We are sick at heart for the voice and the fourth floor. And then the poem goes on to say that nevertheless the return cannot be made must be rejected. Mr. MacLeish mistily own Baron and Mr. Frederick L. are to the Literary Society would like to ask you some questions Mr. Ellerton. Mr. MacLeish do you think that this dilemma of freedom. This choice between being and belonging is a dilemma peculiar to your generation. Hasn't it existed before and throughout American history. I'm sure it has Mr. Allard as the front here moved west there were always faces turn back toward the coast in the sea and Europe as well as faces turned forward. The farm is a poem
written 30 years ago which speaks of this. Why do you listen trees. Why do you wait. Why do you fumble at the breeze just dequeue late with a hopeless fluttering hands stare down the vanished road beyond the gate that now no longer stands. Why do you wait. Trees. Why do you listen. Trees 1750 cross drives up the trail from west or perhaps a Burgos Paillard sumac feathers in the pines the wooden wagon grunts and whines bland oxen leaning outward lurch over the borders pine to Birch the hills changed color in the West. What juice it humps a stubborn caress. If it takes the promised land earth rock and rubble in his hand eighteen hundred. Young sugar maples in a row flap
awkward leaves. Right Baker's blow in failing ripples to the blow of hemlocks Ephraim's house stands true above the troubling of a brook. He freedom's gravestone seem to look west of the Berkshires and steal West Hepzibah stones turn back compressed and bitter silence toward the sea between her sons sleep patiently 1871. A blind door you're lying in the snow questions the men they knock and go through the old bedroom to the back. The kitchen door swings out a crack framing and Aggie energy chair dead as a haddock ragged hair scrawled over on her shriveled eyes. Since Monday morning they surmise the last of her name she was and best be lyin up there with the rest. Why do you listen. Trees. Why do you wait. Why do you
fumble at the breeze just to kill it with a hopeless fluttering hands stared down the vanished road beyond the gate that now no longer stands. Why do you listen trees. Why do you listen. Tree. Actually hasn't this dilemma had the effect of sending quite a few American artists back into a world in which they thought they could belong. In my generation Mr Allard Yes as you very well know and in the generation before. The so-called expatriates were only temporary return yrs but some stayed. Some who found the order and structure and habit of Europe more meaningful shall we say than the open fields and the vistas up beyond the mountains. Here's a portrait of one of them. A point caused oil painting of the artist as the artist. The pump Mr Cliff is washing his hands of America.
The plump Mr. Perfect in ochre with such hair. America is in blue black grey greensand color. America is a continent to many lands that come Mr Coffee is washing his hands of America. He is pictured Paul on the Plas and his eyes glaring. He thinks of himself as an exile from all this is an emigre from his own time into history. History being an empty house without owners a practical man may get in but the pretty stones the dead are excellent hosts. They have no objections and once in you can nail the knob in the next one living the life of a classic in bad air with himself for the past and his face in the glass for posterity. The Ching but there was nothing at all like no more natural wounded near the Shenandoah. You have other Garraty Tenn your violence Texas the rock someday your fields Ohio Connecticut. Your claim is ordering your clay.
You have driven him out. You have shadowed his life Appalachians purple mountains. There is much too much of your flowing Mississippi. He prefers a tidy Airstream with a terrace for trippers and cypress is mentioned in Horace or Henry James. He prefers a country where everything carries the name of a countess or real king or an actual palace or something in prose and the stock price is all in Italian. There is more shade for an artist under of big than under the whole rock rangy finds of the Big Horn. But Mr. MacLeish hasn't the passion for liberty always been strong in America and particularly strong in American poetry. The plump Mr. Plouffe seems to be the exception. This is Don I hope it is still strong in America the passion for liberty. But I sometimes think these days it's only as strong as a passion in our poetry. In any case I'm certain of this that poetry responds to the passion of
liberty with us whether it wholly responds in this poem I want to read you now I must leave to you. This is a point called Brave New World which was written in those sad and dusty days after the end of the last war. But you will Thomas Jefferson. You cannot lie so still you could not bear the weight of stone on the quiet Hill. You could not keep your green grown peace nor hold your boded hand if you could see your new world now your new Sweet Land. There was a time Tom Jefferson when freedom made free men. The new found world in the new freed mind were brothers then there was a time when tyrants fear the new world of the free. Now freedom is afraid and shrieks that terror. Words have not changed their sense Osun nor tyranny grown knew the truth you held
Tom Jefferson will still hold true. What's changed is freedom in this age. What great man dared to choose a small man now dare neither win nor Lowe's freedom when men fear freedom's use but love its useful name has cause and cause enough for their own cause for shame. We fought a war in freedom's name and won it in our own way fought to free our world and raised a wall of stone. Your countrymen who could have built the hills buyers of the free to set the dry world all ablaze with liberty to burn the brutal thorn in Spain of bigotry and hate and the deadlock I and the brittle we beyond the plate who could have heaped the bloody straw the dung of time to light the Danube in a sudden flame of hope by night.
Your countryman who could have hurled their freedom like a brand have cupped it to a candle spark in a frightened hand. Freedom that was a thing to you. They've made a thing to save and staked it in and fence round like a dead man's grave. Thomas Jefferson. You could not lie so still you could not bear the weight of stone on your green hill. You could not hold your angry tongue. If you could see how bold the orld stale better world plays new and the new world old your image of the blazing torch is striking. But I find it disturbing Mr McLeish. I had the same feeling when reading another of your points the short one called Liberty which is pretty largely based on the same image isn't it. It is. You mean this point.
When liberty has had longer runs or roads and whens are away as liberty will shriek and twirl her shower a torch to see it blaze. When liberty is wedded wife and keeps the barn and counts the liberty our memories her life she drowns or torch for fear of fire. I like this point very much Mr. MCLEISH But I must admit that I find it a little perplexing I think because you present liberty in terms of two conflicting metaphors. First you see Liberty as a young woman wonderful but rather wild and then you see her converted after marriage or perhaps by marriage into a matron who is so concerned with preserving liberty that She smothers it. Did you intend to present the problem of Liberty as a dilemma. Or is perhaps the wild young girl a rather brash young girl really or symbol of ideal liberty.
Well I think as a parent the problem is a is a dilemma as we've said before no matter how you come out it. And as for whether the brash young girl is the symbol of ideal liberty Well no. Nor is that very unbrushed hausfrau decider. There there I should say to make faces at each other. Liberty involves something more than torches and fire though it needs them. Unless liberty is a passion in a man it isn't in a man but the passion for liberty must become a passion for something more for life before he can work wonders. It's a paradox you see. A man is free to accept life but unless he does accept life his freedom is no longer his. I have two poems I'd like to read you which touch this one deals with it perhaps more or less directly. It's a poem called The Seafarer.
And learn no Voyager to walk the road of Earth. The pitch shouldn't fall and swings across these trees. Those stars that swings the sun light up the wall and look up in these narrow beds to sleep in spite of see in spite of sound the rushing planet makes and learn to sleep against this ground and the other resents this dilemma of yours Mrs. Byron perhaps in terms that are more directly human I hope so. It's a poem called Calypso's Island. The words you know disuse his mouth as he leaves that island after that enchanted year. To return to the sea and the long journey to Penelope. I know very well the goddess she is not beautiful as you are could not be. She is a woman mortal subject to the chances duty of Child bed
sorrow that changes cheeks. The two are unlike you. She will grow grey grow older grey and older. Sleep in that small room. She is not beautiful as you are golden. You are immortal and will never change and can make me immortal also for your garment round me make me whole and strange as those who live forever not the while that will keep me from those dogging dangers ships and the wars in this green far off island silent of all but seas eternal sound or Sea Pines when the law of self is silent. Goddess. I know how excellent this ground but charm contentment of the removed heart the bee is made in the lavender where pounding surf sounds far off and the bird that darts darts through its own eternity of light
motionless in motion. And the startled hare is startled into stone the fly forever golden in the flickering glance of really the sunlight that still holds it. I know your goddess and your caves that answer oceans confused voices with a voice. Your poplars where the storms are turned to dances. Arms where the heart is turned. You give the choice to hold forever what forever passes to hide from what will pass for ever. Maurice moister your well stones God is your grasses and she. She is a woman with that fault of change that will be death in her at last. Nevertheless I long for the world's soul too restless contending see and for the Ireland where the grass dies and the seasons alter
where that one wears the sunlight for a while. All right Mr. MacLeish that's the choice the distance makes. He chooses to rejoin Penelope in reality instead of living out his life on the goddess's Island. In other words. This is the hero's choice and therefore every man's choice. But the poem sounds to me as though you had in mind. Artist as well as hero. That is as well as man. I did indeed Mr Elliot. I did indeed the artist Joyce is certainly the same choice it's man's choice man artist or hero or man. And that too I tried to say a little in a poem of a rather different mood called the renovated temple in which perhaps I should say there's of course the goddess of the news. Ma'am you should see your house. Remember where the pillars stood. The
dose of sea smashing clean across the porch is everything open. The wet wind the torch the blind man shouting things of gods and girls above the waves sound in the Smokies swirling things about Troy the horse trick and those troubles. The place is a private club. Never a shout in the house or a girl either. Only those pimply boys who breeds sour is cookie dough. Where once the curtains mirrors where the windows were. It's a neat place ma'am. They've stuffed the hawk and hung the oars up varnished and they talk. God how they talk about the members and their stations about the house rules and the regulations about their battles with the mice and spiders. They talk of anything but what's outside the Coldfire tinkles in the teacup loves. It's not like Dante's time with all
those dozen shrieks and pitch parts and all putrid years dug up from hell to dress the chandelier is well beyond dragging dead men into hang or better live as when all the roof cats wrangled Shakespeares of the fierce dispute. It's not like that. It's neat and they know their duty. NE does a catechism. Still they thumb their eyes and wonder why you never come. You make an association Mr Mack and McLeish between liberty and life which I for one can accept. But the minute you make this association Don't you have to go deeper. Doesn't the question about freedom then become a question about the nature of man becomes the question about the nature of man. Freedom rests on belief in man doesn't it. Mustn't it. Unless men believe
in man they must bring in dictators to rule them and they will not be free. Which is why the great lovers of freedom of the great lovers of man. What is man is still the question all of us must ask. Yet still the riddle we must answer as this last point attempts to say what riddle asked the Sphinx. In my stone eyes I see the same Dupin his need delve in the desert for eternity. In my eyes stone ears I hear the night last traveller cry when the Earth's shadow when or where stone deaf and blind I ponder in my mind the bone that seeks the flesh that cannot find a stone blind I see the Saints it turn it
deep in the earth he digs in. Cannot he stone deaf I hear the night say. Then say there. Why. Cries the travellers still to the night air. The one is not content with silence the days spent with Earth. The other more they think was meant. Stone that I am can stone perceive what flesh and bone are blind and deaf to. Or has hermit known as traveller divide and question their behind. I cannot come to being stone and blind. Do we know who can or can I ask. Since time began. What is it. Has For answer man.
- New England anthology
- Archibald MacLeish
- Producing Organization
- University of Massachusetts
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program focuses on the poetry of Archibald MacLeish, who is present to read some of his works.
- Other Description
- A series featuring New England poets who read and discuss their own works.
- Broadcast Date
- New England--Poetry.
- Media type
Performer: MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982
Producing Organization: University of Massachusetts
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-9-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “New England anthology; Archibald MacLeish,” 1955-03-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 13, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-0k26f987.
- MLA: “New England anthology; Archibald MacLeish.” 1955-03-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 13, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-0k26f987>.
- APA: New England anthology; Archibald MacLeish. 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-500-0k26f987