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This is poetry in the American series of broadcasts on American poets and poetry produced and recorded by radio station KPFA in Berkeley California. Under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters in this program Professor John Edwards of the University of California at Berkeley presents a lecture recital on the poetry of an early American poet Frederick Goddard talk him and Mr. Edwards. This is a sonnet by an American poet. No one reads. Sometimes I walk where the deep water dips against the land or on where a fancy drives. I walk and muse aloud like one who strives to tell his half share a thought with stumbling lips and view the oceans the the Ocean ships with a joyless heart. Still about myself I
find and restless phantoms of my restless mind. Only the moaning of my wandering Woods only the wailing of the wheeling plough and this high rock beneath whose base the sea has wormed long caverns like my TS in me and a heart like this I stand and beaten and blind this desolate rock. With the likeness rusted over with the salt sleet and talking of the birds. It is curious how often in our pursuit of the odds we deny ourselves some of the very experience we seek by searching
only in the highest places as if the Jam are always on the top shelf and never down among the corn flakes in the tea bags. One would think so rare is the readable we'd look around a bit more instead of reaching only for the top shelf. For all the best it has been known and thought felt and suffered and spoken stands waiting we console ourselves with Hippocrates easy aphorism about art being long and time short and it is quite right that the top shelf is where our main attention should be. But in the mean time down a shelf or two hidden away. Good work often lies neglected. Frederick Goddard Tuckerman was a man who had something to say. A poet who saw long caverns in the rock
and knew the cues to make be there time enough. This man is worth knowing. But talk a man is not known. He's been more or less on the road for almost a century document was a New England man living in the Massachusetts of Emerson and also on the road. Born into the Brahman Boston of Longfellow Lowell and Holmes live in the years of Whitman and Melville while Emily Dickinson was in Amherst dissecting time in brilliant private versus doctor men was writing poems in nearby green fields. He was among the greats of a fine age. We wanted the best of that age with careful readings and endless comments but Tuckerman has been left alone.
Talk a man is not top shelf stuff but he made an honest human gesture that honest human speech made it with dignity and brought it to meaning. There are not a large poet. He was yet a poet. A man who took a world he never made and made it something of his own gave shape to shifting human experiences and brought a human situation into focus. ATTENTION I think should be paid. The available facts on talk a man's life are not many. We know he was born in Boston in 1821 the cousin of Henry Tuckerman the better noan but less with the poet who died in
green fields where he had long lived the life of the recluse in 1873. He went to Harvard took a degree in a law and settled down with his bride how to Lucinda Jones the deal of the Sonnets only to lose her ten years later at the birth of the third child. He was a man who liked to be out in the fields enjoyed the amateur study of nature both the natural world of the countryside and the appalling nature of the skies for he was something of a student of astronomy. But he lived apart evidently from his neighbors in Greenfield and like Mr concerned. Build a world within the walls of his isolation for his wife's step was a laws from which he never wholly recovered and his problems especially his sonnets from which I want to read for this program
reveal him abrasively aware of the designs of time and the poetry of his grief which I want to turn in a few moments as talk of MN's finest work. But first I would like to lead a more varied talk him and reveal himself. Consider for instance the sonnets working a vein of irony that Emily Dickinson and later Robert Frost wrote so did begin. These are the songs. Licentiate of the schools with knowledge hot a stranger here the game dames frightened who talked to us of Christ the Sibyls Gras glanced at Copernic that he knew him not and showed us hell and where the blast abide the star said that round the North Star glide forward there is heaven
telling nightly as they brighten. But do they move. I said Boys and so he answered trying really. We see they do. It was you know the crowd was satisfied and I was hushed. Yet felt my call that I was a young knave a cock's comb or a clown who was stooping to us our ignorance to enlighten ended by so illuminating his own. That night the town turned out and crammed the hall and I perhaps maliciously made one to hear the lecture. I who went to none and an old friend with me who went to was but Vane it where the thesis to we call a rant of phrase and Metaphor blundered through meaning not her how.
When ended quite. And poetry had closed like a prayer begun strongman would touch to do his and bright lips grew breathless with praise. But my companion spoke not for a spoke with grave which we scarce had had such learnin and such light since he the Yankee schoolmaster last March came from nine partners to Elyria down. Or this quietly image seen the comes quietly yet persuasively alive as we read. How well do I recall walking state across the common by the paths we knew myself in Sylva bads and ribboned blue my little sister with her book and slate
by the pond the fence of wood the burial place at the corners stood where I once we crossed through the forbidden gate the stones that grudge to sway the graveside weed the ominous wind that turned us half about Smith by the flying drops. What is speed across the paths on blessed and Unforgiven we hurried homeward when the day was laid and heard with all that left no place for doubt God's anger might have gained a darkened heaven. Or here move down upon and into a ghost story in three summits. The first of the Sonnets sets the scene in Long Island and he is
reminded of Pilgrim's Progress by the place names of fireplace and devils and that and good ground and Mt. Sinai Westaway. And then he goes on as in a dream I seemed to tread again. The Pilgrims steps and trace the Heavenly Way. But there sob Happy Jack with me Joyce. Read Ike the hostler with his whistling voice and an old man I call legality craftily queen the tailor he told me. Young Silas long Kerio through these woods drove home one night and not the best of moods. Having just seen a drowned man from the shore with a strange feathered cat. And once before when he was hauling sand and saw the bay about this time
of year a seaman's corpse washed up with such a cap such a face and it had brought misfortune on the place. Pondering he drove when lo across the way he saw too late that there a body lay felt the wheels tilt but could not stop his horse or not at once. Then flinging with a slap the old cloth cover down he called a cab ran back ten steps or more and nothing on its dead pines Dia's foot on the ground so quickly turned again and five or six this gap was gone and in its stead throned the very loon skinned but twice drowned had gone with bits of seaweed sticking to the flakes.
So long road home of cap and sense be rough but still can show the dead mans that was left on the web scrawl he says when the CD rolls then he having told his tale and so it is say by way of emphasis or corollary spout a torpedo in the bed of coals. And what what what became of Long's the old man and here rose and reached the town was laid to his pipe and few away. Or this poem. A brief whimsical simple poem. I mean something to do with the mystery and meaning of things.
And yet tonight when summer Daylight Dies I cross the fields against the summer Gus and with me rising from my feet like dust a crowd of like grasshoppers like flies proceeding dry and dry continuance it where they prefigure change all signals must fail in the dryer when they forebode the wet. Not all of tonight seem mystery from the full fields that pressed so heavily the burden of the blade. The waste of both the twinkling of the smallest life that flits to wear. And all unconsciously he said it's my little boy symbolising eternity. I think God Brahma with his toe in his mouth. One mom
a sonnet that yields a voice yearning for that which is gone. A quietly reflective sonnet that is suddenly and startlingly energized by the surprising last line that brings the elms of home the Opals of Apple and the sycamore that is here is all together. Joining him in gin hope concrete fact and one man's abstract. Garden lodge shut in with the quaintest of a slender girl with still kind pasturing near and bright look half expect and. Need I fear thus to recall that morning when we both rode to the wide city a loud and clear. Yes in the shock and tumult hurrying here. Let me remind you of that place of peace the maidens smile the
look of happy doubt now in the stream of things to do without. To fail still to remember me more than these little valley hidden in the pine the low built cottage buried in the vale. What did and over what did Bush do about it with the whole tree ople and sick of mine. What of the poetry of these poems. Most noticeable I suppose is the way to talk a man works. Improvisation on the basic sonnet form sonnets have been written a long time and conventions have grown up around that form. But talk a man is casual with convention carefully knowingly casual like Emily Dickinson. He occasionally played fast and loose with the way a verse was supposed to be written and
challenge convention of his need. Obvious also is his delight in alliteration. He could speak of the surging surf and simmering suds of the sea for instance. And one thinks that here is a perhaps too obvious delight for the device like any device can destroy its effectiveness when it used too much and Tuckerman in my opinion too often allows himself the pleasure of the lucrative sound. He has a good eye for detail and a good ear for the poetic phrase his rhymes are exact when they are cows or when he lets them be. But both ways around they seem to work for his poetry. The imagery is persuasive evoking a sense of presence of involvement. Like mystic insulins his diction juxtaposes the simple and the complex the concrete in the
abstract as it speaks of a sense of the world that typically New England sees God through the woofer and lives in a natural world that offers symbols of supernatural meanings in the transcendental way. But most important document of verse is alive. That is the woods have movement not merely imposed upon them but movement from within. That is the mark of poetry. One feels in the best of his work that tension of the inarticulate seeking its words of the thing to be said that is trying to work its way out of the poem or through the poetry the activity of an emotion seeking that image that will allow it to release out its best. And I want to read from that best in a moment his poetry structured
logically and associativity moves with a dignity and a modest audacity that reveals a poet's response to experience an inquiring and a shaping response. I've said the talk of men has been long neglected but it was not always so. He broke into print about 1860 with the only volume he published in his life a book simply called Poems. But the demand for that volume was at least sufficient to cause an English edition in 1863 in American reprints in 1864 and 69 it was published in a few of the literary magazines of the time and was respected by Emerson and Longfellow and especially by Tennyson in England. But after his death neglect set in and then in 1909 Walter Pritchard Eton discovered him and
wrote a brief essay in foreign magazine urging attention but nothing happened not at least until 1931 when the poet would have been or edited his sonnets. Many of them previously unpublished and there was a brief flurry of interest in the reviews but little more. Since then there has been an occasional mention one paragraph and Vanna White books 5 volume study of American writing a passing mention in the two volume literary history of the United States. A note of praise from Ivo winters. Some of the Sonnets printed in an anthology prepared by George which are on the publication of his long poem on death created by the coming to the press in 1950. Occasional recognitions that have kept his name from disappearing altogether. But no serious consideration of his works for loss of
his occasionally like to play with the problem of the tree that falls in the forest when no one is around to hear it. Does it make a sound. Is there not an analogous situation here for a poet who has written what no one reads may well not have written at all. I submit that Tuckerman deserves a hearing and if I have not supported my belief by the sonnets I've read I will rest my case on these. With which I want to conclude this program documents volume of poems contains some of the sonnets but also his various other forms. I've neglected the other poetry because time is limited and because except for the cricket surely one of the finest poems on death in American literature the sonnets contain his best work
and the best of his songs explored the dimensions of grief. Ana took women's death as I've said left him shaken uncertain torn again and again his grief drives him into verse. He surrounded that grief with memory and love and struggled through a time of contradiction toward release from discord in a sequence of 28 sonnets. He rode his way toward the acceptance of the necessary. He ended that sequence with these two sonnets. So to the mind long brooding. But on it the haunting theme for anger or joy or tears is with God and it's not what we think appears but hunted home behold its opposite warns sorrow
breaking and disastrous mirth and with wild tears wept of laughter like the drops shook by the trampling funded to the earth. And each seems either all but a counterfeit of that it would dissemble hopes of fears and love as well. Now I hear the discord stops but through all human life runs the account all worn into pain and ending bitterly yet sweet between time like a found that rises salt and fresh and to the sea. Not the round natural world not the deep mind the reconcilement holds the blue a business collects it not our arrows sink amiss and Buddy in him.
May we our import find the agony to know that we the bliss of toil is vain and vain plots of the sod gathered in he didn't haste and flung behind to blind ourselves and others what but this still grasping dust and sowing toward the wind. No more than I meaning seek and anguish plead but leaving straining thought and stammering worry would cross the barren as your pass to God shooting the void in silence like a bird a bird that shuts his wings for better speed. But even his faith could not sustain him would not allow him the silence he sought. And in a later sonnet
he reveals himself still naked to the pain of his loss. Each common object to the house the grove the street the face the wearer in the window all seem alien and sad that wreck of perished dreams painfully present yet remote and love. The day goes down and rain the winds blow. Why'd I leave the town. I climb the mountain side striving from stumps and stone to wring relief and in the senseless anger of my grief I rave and weed I rot to the unmoved skies but the wild tempest carries away my cry. Then back I turn to hide my face and sleep
again with the same dull round to sweep and buy and sell and prate and laugh and chide as if she had not lived. Oh I had not. Unable to forget he continued the struggle to accept poignantly honest with himself almost on with the echoing in my ears the various sounds on Live Love experience are fused into grief and like of grief filled a heart where all emotion tends and turns to is broken by its own strain of passion and need and where the
though of the bitter waters Stajan these dim eyes reviewing thought and would the high desire the faint accomplished deed an uttered love and loss and feverish beatings against a gate for ever barred. Yet over and again Irene and read the blotted page read. Turning to leave leave and to half believe the words are what I wish and pour upon my verse and court my grief. At the end in a sonnet written in the last year of his life Frederick Goddard took women's grief at the death of his wife Ana is still there but at the end also there is a note of
a suggestion carefully qualified. But the silence of the piece the end of pain may have come to him. Let me give something of my spring be done and give to the children and other summer time so stirred with grief. Like Rain let fall my rhyme and tell of one whose aim was much of one whose strife was this that in his thought should be some power of wind some drenching of the sea some drift of stars across the darkening coast. Imagination in size and memory all and dear New-England nature first and last was and was high. Whose work
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Poetry and the American
Readings of Frederic Goddard Tucker
Producing Organization
pacifica radio
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A lecture-recital by John Edwards, teacher at the University of California, on the works of Frederic Goddard Tuckerman.
Series Description
Twenty half-hour programs designed to further the enjoyment of poetry.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Producing Organization: pacifica radio
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Speaker: Edwards, John
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-12-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:24
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Chicago: “Poetry and the American; Readings of Frederic Goddard Tucker,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Poetry and the American; Readings of Frederic Goddard Tucker.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Poetry and the American; Readings of Frederic Goddard Tucker. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from