Poetry and the American; Younger poets
This is poetry on the American produced and recorded by a station KPFA in Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program is an anthology of readings and discussion by Anthony Ostroff and Don Geiger of the number of poems by younger American Poets. Here is Mr. Ostrov. This is the last broadcast in our series of programs on American poetry. We are naturally be set with various temptations on this occasion perhaps above all to try to recapitulate what the series has attempted to do in terms of suggesting something of the nature of poetry itself and some of the particular reflections of America which may be seen in the poetry this country has produced. But the chief ambition of this series has been simply to give voice to a number of American poems in the hope that you who have listened may be stimulated to read further into that wealth of American
poetry which has been only sampled here. Finally it is seemed appropriate to us in terms of that main ambition to devote this last broadcast to reading work by some of the younger poets people who have already established for themselves in the professional world of letters reputations of more than promise but who are not yet very well known to the general public. Of course we suffer the same frustration here as all the rest of these programs. It is impossible to represent work by more than a fraction of the newer poets of talent. The half dozen or so ponds we have chosen to read are quite arbitrarily chosen. But I think they may in one important measure at least suggest what the new poets are doing. I think we must say that the most obvious thing they are doing is to keep very busy writing poetry. I notice in a recently published anthology of verse by younger Anglais Shand American poets that the work of over
50 younger poets is represented. That's forbidding enough certainly but the editors go on to suggest that there are at least three hundred poets and might properly be represented in such an anthology. That is a formidable number. All right I suppose it chiefly suggests we might safely risk not generalizing about the tiny fragment of work that we can include here. I think we might say that all poetry is as it always has been concerned with the constancy of human being. Those conditions that don't change into which every man regardless of his age must make his adjustments. Time death love. Human nature itself the craving for justice violence all the rest of it. And certainly these new poems are in that great tradition of all literary art. Well with that eloquent amplification of the point suppose we go on to read some of these poems. Do you think anything should be said by way of preface to this first one. The tourist on the towers of vision by James Seville.
Well no except that it is a poem in the great tradition dealing with the eternal problem of good and evil. It's very much a contemporary poem though isn't it. Oh yes it is that I find it very interesting to notice how in this poem in which the tourist speaker moves from an Irish castle to the cathedral at sharked to the launching towers at Cape Canaveral should Bill vividly creates the impression that in the modern world where man's very survival is at stake. The problem of good and evil is hardly any longer a matter for eternal philosophic contemplation. We may in short settle the issue of Good and Evil by no longer being around to discuss it. Now that is the fearful impact of the poem All right. Well I suppose we must resist the temptation to talk about it any further. Here is the poem. The tourist on the towers of vision 1957
by James should build. In a ruined Irish castle searching for towers a vision I saw a devil and an angel looking at the past and future below them. The present was a quiet valley of trees and feel the devil was reading the past from a Latin text. Morse Oram Valentine's Day I. They kneel. Death twitches my ear live he says. For I am coming. While the angels sang Abba Largs how mighty are the Sabbaths. Through the stones of the castle worn with age. The old Celtic gods wandered lost in time. At sharked I read Henry Adams and sought unity in the
arches of the nave the soaring shadows the true height the shark which is as near as possible one hundred twenty feet in the nearer as possible stood the devil in the angel one looking at gargoyles the other twelfth century glass. The present lay below them in the quiet street. In Florida. I climbed the launching tower for rockets. A skeleton frame of steel almost one hundred twenty feet in height. The cathedral that shark was built to hold ten thousand people. But on this tower loomed only the intercontinental missile from the towers top. I looked into an endless sky.
Good bye to devils and angels. It is a strange madness said Pat Brock. This desire to be forever sleeping in a strange bed I have found my bed. I thought goodbye to the past and future looking down I saw the devil and the angel create the dark and light of day. Well much as there is to say about that poem I suppose we should move on to this next one. Yes that is a fascinating poem but I'm afraid to try to say anything at all in less than the whole time remaining here would be to say much less than enough. And
this next poem though a very different order is one that deserves to get read. Well I don't know if the poem we can jus this one will finish you off but of course you're right it's an excellent poem. This is the flaming carousel by Adrian c o rich. And in this poem we see all life as a kind of furious merry go round glamorous intense irresistible at first but also finally in eggs or a bowl and consuming. The flaming carousel by Adrian Ridge round flies the flaming carousel to rock and shock the screaming park the dizzy watchers one and all. Who would not write it if they could. Those vaulting legs that dancing would who would stand by in the dark their rides Fred in their married clothes to the Veyron. Next they claimed
their hair streams out. But where is she. Their faces blaze. And who is he. No one has caught the golden ring and still around those writers flaying the music cri. Yes the flames died down. Our voices rise above the sound. Our eyes are spinning in a swirl and cannot fix on boy or girl. The flaming carousel slows down and the charred children of step down. I take it there is a kind of ambivalence about that poem that is on the one hand the poem is about children as writers of the flaming carousel and we as adults witness their burning the destruction by a life of
youth and innocence and on the other hand we are all writers all withering and jarring in the terrible friction of time. Yes I think that's what the poem is essentially about. Well if that is a poem about the ravages of time this next one is typical of another pursuit of the poet which is the search for a solution to the riddle of time. This is called the poplars shadow and is by another young woman Miss Mae Swenson. It's interesting to me that Miss Winston seeks the answer to our problem here. Outside man's world or outside the social order anyway and seeks it in the same place nearly all the poets of always found it is to be found if it is to be found in the ultimately mysterious world of nature. Yes this is really a kind of pastoral poem though it's written in the city. This one probably doesn't need much preface but it might be helpful to mention the basic figure on which it's built. The speaker is City bound.
But from an experience of nature within the city in the form of pigeon feathers and pigeons themselves in flight is prompted to recall another expression of naturall being from her childhood which is the poplar tree and in the poem the two figures through what they express are fused and become one. This is the poem the poplars shadow by Mae Swenson. When I was little when the poplar was in leaf its shadow made a sheath. The quill of a great pan dark upon the lawn where I used to play grown and long away into the city gone. I see the pigeons print a loop in air and all their wings reversing fall with silver under 10 like Poplar leaves.
There are scenes in the wind blown times other side shown as a flipped car and leans on City Ground when I see a pigeons feather Little and Large together. The Poplars shadow is fallen. Staring good here. And superimposing. Then I wait for when I watch this will appear. Will great birds swing over me like gongs the poplar plume belongs to what enormous wing. This next poem by John Logan is another poem involved with the problem of answering the riddle of time of life or to put it more directly it's concerned with the problem of salvation with yesterday.
This is the one religious poem we have here and Logan is one of the few religious poets among the younger writers. Certainly he's a very good one. Here he's writing very much in the tradition of the great religious poet such as Dunn and Hopkins. The poem which is called monologue for the Good Friday Christ is a dense one and diagonalize to the problem of faith is difficult and only after his tormented prayer which is brought on by is straining and struggling with as well as for belief is he able to kiss the cross monologue for the Good Friday Christ by John Logan. The Good Friday crowd who went in queues to kiss the crocs Fidelis soon shall each have back to the least joy and red sand. What he gave up for Lent. But Christ what do
we do that hate pain and can't pray and are not able not to say in that state contrite until night. Did you not die for us too. That will not move to welcome or like a Baptist believe bend so live or cannot feed upon the quick and lean locusts are not at home with the eye and austere honeycomb are not the nails sweet. The wood that hell die away. And what other tree ever put such a leaf or flower or root. But why am I here in my sea. By my sins and your defeat. I shall read Psalms and wait. But why can I
not kiss the crucifix my lips are dry my tongue sticks in my jaw. Oh great God as the early and the late trains come bind the thorn from my so the rage delight the lions from my flesh mice we hold from the dog's hand let my afflictions be not torn on the turn spear of the unicorn. God. God do not die this afternoon. We bought an axe. But crises rise and before Easter light new fire and spring the cold burned the root of the O. Our holy master has to die. We need to go and touch your lips to our
pride. I think that's a powerful and wonderful piece. But you know I'm puzzled by the close there it seems to me still somehow although I thought your reading of it was very moving. I find still that the end is ambiguous and I can't really solve the ambiguity though perhaps that isn't necessary anyway since it is a rich perplexity. You mean those last two lines where Logan says our holy master has died we kneel and touch lives to our promise yes I take it. Logan means that now Christ sacrifice has become real and so he can kneel at last to kiss the cross. And yet when he says touch lips to our pride the idea of. Taking pride in Christ or the cross seems such a curious appropriation I feel that it must be ironic and perhaps quite bitterly.
Well I have exactly the same problem so I'm no help to you there but I can't resist a sense of a cold a very cold irony in that close. So when he says our holy master has died he means Christ has died dead. Yes but the irony is directed at the pious Good Friday crowd who will have back to the least joy and red sent what they gave up for Lent rather than at the idea of the church or Christ something something like that. Yes that I'm sure that's right but you know if we're not careful we'll start really talking about it isn't it. Well you're right. It would be a good one to talk more about I guess we should move on. Our next poem here is to a blue hippopotamus by Ellen the young kid who is I believe the youngest of the poets we're reading here. There's a subscript of the title which reads Egyptian circa 1950 B.C. and the occasion for the poem is an early Egyptian painting of a hippopotamus though it's about a good deal more than that. Would you say though that this is essentially a poem about painting or about art at least.
I mean what I get here mainly is a kind of celebration or homage at least to the painter of the painting and of the whole mode of perception that it represents. Well I agree with that. And it's awfully hard to say what is central or or most central. I think the poem is also interesting Lee about past and present. You mean the difference between a natural habitat of the hippo as shown in the four thousand year old painting and the habitat in which most of us know and now that three walled hell of his cage in the zoo. To quote the poem yes at the same time the the poem seems to me a celebration of seeing nature directly and beautifully. It is also an indictment of our modern highly organized speed obsessed world that makes such vision difficult and corrupt nature itself. Anyway here is the poem to a
blue hippopotamus Elland a young K.. Millions who pass you see but in Congress fail now to reconcile the river a horse the Nile your pasture rapid blue with that bare dungeons where your descendants dwell mocked in their three walled none have observed your pace swift under water grace or rest like river gods feeding on sacred pods and shallows by the bank. They picture but the ranks draw the abrupt cement not shelves and excrement. Who know but cramp annoys. Smile at your easy poise. Who have not seen you swim can only den is when that you instead of mud
where lotus bloom and Bud who rush past will not span four thousand years of man. Yet some Egyptian you saw not in when but through the river of horror submerge under surreality and SRD prison in lotus. We condescendingly smile at the primitive the simplified who live magnified incidence which of us has the sense per specked of all of the power to cast beast river a flower. One moment's entity in such simplicity of hope perfect with part in such immobile our. This next poem we are going to read might have been written by that young Egyptian
painter if he were living now on this continent. Anyhow it is concerned with casting one moment and a day in a form of art. The form is the poem which is Robert harangues midnight jumping salmon and the moment is the moment of capture of these great fish. Not by hook or net but by the eye and mind. Midnight jumping salmon by Robert who ran. This is a scene of my imagination guided by wet lamps toward the choir in water. The silver wharf wood splinters at our heels and crooked rope strip the drunk Stargazer those leaning fragile melancholy houses seen at the seaside loom here also. Although this journey takes us to a river
I can hear the thin wives in their iron bad. I know the damp children are dropped in sleep and the sailor folded in his farm of green on the porch the redeye dreaming dog smells the lantern moving like a moon. After some hours inland our hearts bright with beats in the boat at midnight the DO's the jacket. We come to a little shelf hung over the river and our blond lambs dazzle the swinging fog like Indians. First one and then another crouches on haunches close to the coiling water leans his drawn face down toward the rapid narrower the muscular unfolding meadows and then the low twined
in a million armors they weave and shine arched in the pebble dark loop daring escape through all this world's windows in coed joy a jumping midnight salmon. In a way it's a long move from the rich and lavish imagery of that Harang poem to this next one which is by read more and is quite a different sort of thing but this one too in its flat colloquial idiom seems to me a splendid poem. It's called a storm from the east and it ends after showing us a family facing the derangement of a real and also symbolic storm. By playing brilliantly on a familiar saying. Love will prevail.
This is the poem. A storm from the east. My read one more. Their house faces east has protected by trees from winds from the Gulf which the weatherman says prevail in that section. But a correction is due. The thesis or maybe the house since for three days from the east a preeminent Gale has frozen through sweaters and sweaters both husband and spouse. They have an unspoken agreement that they will be surly ime to each other and any intruders for the duration. And they have kept it one refusing to talk cook or sweep the place the other composing briefs for his side of the case and watching goals fight for a dead fish. As the wind blows they have children too but are keeping them properly collared until the storm drops or the children.
At which time the patter of tiny feet will again be allowed and the oldest may even stop by asking What is the matter. They have love to put away put away while a fret about the injustices done to them life and no maid or when will the wind died down. Weather man and let go what is so why pray they pray they. Those last two lines make an awfully good closer don't they. Yes the nagging trivia all comes to a real consequence there all right. You know the mention of the word prevailing calls up this next poem in a way. I mean don't you think we could say it is a poem which suggests that nothing prevails in the end.
Well it is another poem about time and how all things finally reseat into the mist of the past. This poem describes a 19th century aristocracy now defunct. One of its charms the poems that is I think is the mournful mention at a climactic point of disappearance of the vanishing of the gentleman's hunting hounds along with a gentleman and ladies. This is beyond the hunting woods by Donald Justice. I speak of that great house beyond the hunting Woods turreted and towered in 19th century style where fireflies by the hundreds leaped in the long grass odor of jessamine and roses canker bit recalling famous times when Damon maidens sipped sassafras or wild elderberry wine while far in the hunting Woods men after their Red Hounds pursued the mythic beast.
I ask it of a stranger and all that great house finding not any living thing or of the wind and the weather what charm was in that vine that they should vanish so ladies in their stiff boned clean of limb and over the hunting Woods what mist had maddened him. The gentleman should lose not only the beast in view but Belle and ginger too. Nor home from the hunting Woods ever ever. I think we just about have time for one more short poem here. I'd like to read for a last poem one by William Jay Smith called the closing of the rodeo. I don't think it needs any special introduction to you Woods. It's about the end of an era wouldn't you say. Has the end of an era. One more poem about time. Well this is it. The closing of the rodeo by William Jay Smith.
The lariat snaps the cowboy rolls his pack and mounts and rides away back to the land. The cowboy I go is plumes of smoke from the factories sway in the setting sun. The curtain falls. A train in the darkness pulls away. Goodbye says the rain on the iron roads. Goodbye say the barber Bowen's Dar drum the vanishing of the horses who. You have been listening to younger poets the last program in this poetry and the American Series director for the series was Anthony Ostrov. Robert Bill who was assistant director and Mr. Robert Cronus was a recording engineer your announcer has been Charles Levy
poetry and the American was produced and recorded by station KPFA in Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA Radio Network.
- Poetry and the American
- Younger poets
- Producing Organization
- pacifica radio
- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- An anthology, read by Anthony Ostroff and Don Geiger.
- 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: Ostroff, Anthony, 1923-
Speaker: Geiger, Don, 1923-
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-12-20 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Poetry and the American; Younger poets,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 8, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-2r3p0m1m.
- MLA: “Poetry and the American; Younger poets.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-2r3p0m1m>.
- APA: Poetry and the American; Younger poets. 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-500-2r3p0m1m