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Listen to the land a profile of a nation in terms of its living language. This week of time and the seasons. Everyone is fascinated by time and weather and from time immemorial writers have been attracted to their multiple influences. Here then is a program devoted to American writings on the subjects on the Listen to the land produced 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 director Richard S.. An early dictionary quotes the Bible in defining the word season as a time to every purpose and adds almost as an afterthought. Also one of the quarters of the year Noah Webster's first dictionary completely left out the division of the seasonal year. Simply stating that a season is a fit time
before the Met 18:00 of the word season had become an Americanism denoting the intricate timings of nature. And people do not automatically associate it with a spring summer fall and winter seasons were time for the vagaries of the weather or the appearances of the moon. The peculiarities of growing things are the rise of an occasion. They were the slow heartbeat of the American countryside. They were in effect the countryman's calendar. I'm quoting from the seasons of America passed by Eric Sloan published by Wilford funk incorporated an excellent source book from which this narrative material helps to set the tone and framework of this program on time and the seasons. Mr. Sloan continues we are already far less aware of spring summer fall and winter than we used to be. Every schoolboy I once knew the arc of the winter and summer sun the meaning of economics and all the signs of nature that revolve in harmony with each season.
He decries the modern day speeding up of life and the eventual squeezing out of nature's seasons. Let us then reacquaint ourselves with this age old Konerko analogy. By hearing from some articulate American writers on the subject starting with winter Mark Van Doren one of America's most respected and versatile poets essayists and short story writers published a volume entitled A Winter's diary and other poems in 1935 which contains some extremely evocative writings on the winter season. I particularly like this passage on the coming of biting cold. So quietly it came that we could doubt it. There was no wind from anywhere to shout it simply cane the inescapable cold sliding along some world already old and stretched already there had we perceived it. Now by this hour the least one has believed it. Snippy the lesser kitten lies in
tangled deep in the fur of snappy or dangled feed sack drapes a box inside the shed. I found them with a lantern playing dead. Those very creatures Snoopy and her brother who were in the orange sunset tumble each other light by the stepping stone through such a night. How often have they put the frost to flight. How often when the blackness made them bolder and they confounded time that grew no colder yet not this night. They recognized the god as in the barn the black mare left the nod stands in her blanket dozing. I have come from tending her and heard the ominous hum of branches that no wind moved overhead only a tightness and a stealth. Instead the stiffened world turns hard upon its axis laboring But these yellow lamps relax us here in the living room at either end. She by the South one eye by the North pretend forgetfulness of pavements I remarked how very dead the sky is and how dark in passing
with the air to that poor on things familiar having been before. It is our way of knowing what is near. This is the time. This is the holy year we planned for casting every cable off that was a board creak. That was the horse's cough. That was no wind we say. And looking down smile at the wolf dog Sam who dreams of brown clipped fields that he will open when he wakes. He dreams and draws us Ackles up and slips imaginary thirsts that frozen pools. He is the wolf dog. He is the one that fools newcomers up the yard for gentler beast. Never proud to country for a feast. He is the boy's companion. But dusk ran rings with them tonight and were in the husk of daylight in his teeth and stood his hair wind up right now he sleeps unthinking their companion of the boys who long ago climbed the dark
stairs to bed. So we below should come there too. We sigh and say it again and laugh to hear the clock tick out the ten. We are not sleepy. This is the holy year. But it took on the midnight sun for cheer start coffee in the kitchen while I spread bright jam upon the goodness of cut bread. I think that the VanDoren selection presents a charming combination of aesthetic expression and only circumstance one can almost feel the chill. You probably would enjoy Mark Derek Darren's selected poems. Which as I said earlier are published by Random House. But winter doesn't last forever although along about February it usually seems like it. At length however the days stretch and become warmer and we begin to feel the stirring of the sap in our joints and one day just as Heywood Broun dead.
We see the first robin but if only we could capture the essence of the experience is he dead. In the following York Pennsylvania. Where the temperature at 10 degrees below zero the first robin of the year was seen in York today. It was found dead on Penn common. Call me an old and old son a mentalist if you weld but this seems to me the most tragic news note of the cold way. I like people better than robins and there have been widespread and agonizing suffering. But you see this was the first drama. It was by all odds the pioneer of his clan. He flew up from the south days weeks and months before any reasonable Robin whether it was to be expected without doubt the rest tried to discourage him. They spoke of the best recorded experience of bird kind. Rome wasn't built in a day. Some other Robin told him and no doubt he was advised that if he insisted on such precipitate action he would split the group and no good could come of it.
Somehow I seem to hear him saying if 10 will follow me I'd call out an army other two will join up. Maybe one. But all the Robins recall oiled and clung to their patches of sun under the southern skies. Later maybe they told him not now. First there must be a campaign of education. Well replied the Robin who was all for going to York P.A. without waiting for further reinforcements. I know one whole try at. I'm done with arguments and here I go. He was so full of high hopes and dedication that he rose almost with the roar of a partridge for a few seconds he was a fast moving speck up above the palm trees and then you couldn't spot him even with field glasses. He was lost in the blue and flying for dear life impetuous I call it. Said one of the elder statesman. Well someone took him for a worm. He always did want to show off another announced. And everybody agreed. No good could come of it.
As it turned out maybe they were right. It's pretty hard to prove that anything has been gained when a robin freezes to death on Penn Con. However I imagine that he died with a certain sense of elation. None of the rest thought he could get there and he did. The break in weather turned out to be against him he just guessed wrong in that one respect and so I wouldn't think of calling him a complete failure when the news gets back home to the robins who didn't go. I rather expect that they'll make him a hero. The elder statesman will figure that since he is dead his ideas can't longer be dangerous and they cannot deny the lift in the swing of his venture. After all he was the first robin. He looked for the spring and it failed him. Now he belongs to that noble army of first Robins. Many great names are included in the honors of office and public acclaim of ribbons and medals. The keys of the city these are seldom the perquisite of men or birds in the first flight. They go to a fifth sixth and even
20th Robin. It is almost a rule that the first robin must die alone on some bleak common before mankind will agree that he was a hero. And sometimes it takes 50 years and often a hundred. John Browne Galileo and those who sought goals before the world was quite ready are all in good standing. The man who says that would be swell. But of course you can't do it as generally as right as rain. But who wants to get up and cheer for frustration in the long haul. The first Robin is more right than any. It was his idea. He softened the way for the others and with him even failure is its own kind of triumph. He is not the victim of dry rot or caution or doomed eyestrain from too close an attention to Ledger's ere I go. He cries and I wouldn't be surprised to be told at the first minute of flight is reward enough no matter what follows. And so in a metaphorical way of speaking I bare my head and
Balo in the general direction of the ice covered plane which is known as Penn Conn.. And I think that the brief address should carry the statement. You were the first and after you will come others they will inherit the grubs and the nests and the comfort. But yours is the glory. You are the first robin. Let's follow up. It would brooms graceful sige attention to the first precipitous Robin with a description of the actual arrival of spring in the month of April. As it comes to the farm Betty FEIBEL Martin wrote a beautiful description of this season in the New York Times Magazine narrating the seasonal rebirth in the farmlands of a genuine she entire late spring comes to the farm. Ours is a back road spilling off U.S. Highway Number 51 small
farm after another. We do not need to be told what is happening. We know we hear the peepers chorusing their high overture to spring from every Martian pond. We see the cows and horses shedding their heavy winter coats. We find the bloody hens clucking over a nest of eggs. We smell the earth again after weeks of odorless snow and ice in the quiet of the night. We hear the rabbits drumming on the ground calling to their mates. Our world is being born anew out of the darkness of winter has emerged a fresh bright land of opportunity returned ours to do with as we will. Last year's failures and mistakes are somehow wiped away gone with the winter's snow and here we have a whole new season inviting new adventure. It has been thus since time began but there is always a wonder happy mystery about the land when spring returns the land endures year after turning year. And yet it is ever changing and
spring itself is the very upsetting me of change. It is time to prune the great vines cut out the dead Apple would clean the fence rows and burn over the fields of weeds and broom sage columns of smoke dot the horizon bonfires here grass fires there Up up and into his'n spreading in the wind until the rolling countryside is enveloped in a dense screen of peaceful smoke like the Colts appear and pastures nuzzling their mothers hungrily frisking with sheer delight over being here and then lying out flat in the good warm sun to sleep off food and play wobbly calves but the cows gamble about after feeding and inadvertently bring milk butter and cheese to larders lean after the long winter. On porches and Aliyev sheds wherever the sun is warm the women past the time of day their hands of not been idle cutting potatoes into seed and small children too young for school. Twittering about their feet.
The following morning they are out in the garden with their menfolk dropping seed potatoes into the straight deep furrows. Day by day brown fields green under the tender warmth of spring. The rain and the sun. Hard by the farmhouses the freshly painted and gray tumble down shack alike the bloom comes on the fruit plums cherries peaches pears and apples burst forth and all their white and pink glory. And after the preventive spraying there was a lull in the work. The breather between seeding and cultivating we walk over our acres more leisure early we see the potatoes up high and high alive with potato bugs feeding like gourmands on the young leaves. We linger outside at dusk long enough to hear the whisper wills calling in the woods and the first bass duets of the bull frogs in the pond bugs whippoorwill and bull frogs. Then we know spring has been typin out and some are creeping in.
Along about here half way through our program it seems to me that we could do with a smile or two and most of the people who write about the seasons do it with serious and poetic intent. One exception is our friend Ogden Nash who although a writer with poetic content is more delirious than serious. Now that we're into summer the happy time let's enjoy it with a happy rhyme from Mr. Nash. Summertime and seaside serenade. It begins when you smell a funny smell and it isn't vanilla or caramel and it doesn't forget me nots or lilies or new mown hay or daffy down dillies. And that's not what the barber rubs on father and yet it's awful. And yet you like it rather. No it's not what the barber rubs on Daddy it's more like an elderly finnan haddie or shall we say an electric fan blowing over a sardine can. It smells of seaweed it smells of clams. It's as fishy as first night telegrams it's as fishy as millions of fishy fishes in spite of what you find it delicious. You could do with a second helping please and
that my dears is the ocean breeze and pretty soon you observe a pack of people reclining upon the back. And another sight is very common is people reclining upon their abdomen and now you lose the smell of the ocean. In the Swedish vapor of sunburn lotion and the sun itself seems paler and colder compared to the million face and shoulder athletic young men uncover their torso in a viral way that men maidens adore So while paunchy uncles before they bathed them in voluminous beach robes modestly swayed them. The beach is peppered with ladies who look like pictures out of a medical book like Burleigh cue queens like bubble dancers their clothes are riddles complete with answers. Last not least consider the kiddies chirping like crickets and Katy Diddy's splashing squealing slithering crawling cheerful tearful boisterous bawling kiddies and clamors crowds that swarm heavily over your prostrate form callus kiddies who gallop and myriads twixt ardent Apollo's and eager
near Ians kiddies who bring as a priceless cup something dead that a wave washed up. Well it's each to his taste and a taste to each. Shall we saunter down to the bathing beach. And then as the season wanes and we move into August Mr. Nash issues a midsummer warning. August is sunburn and moonlight Augusts a menace to man. When the casual canoe or discovers lawnmower August has done it again. August is moonlight and sunburn when the bachelor sows as he reaps his sunburn will finally unburned but he's burned in the moonlight for keeps. For more of Ogden Nash in season and out of season if indeed he could be out of season and for a delightful Reiman reason referred to his numerous books published by
Random House. To quote again from the seasons of America passed by Eric Sloan. The most typically American of all seasons might well be Indian summer a phenomenon of the autumn season with no fixed date. It ranges from September through November. It is a mystic warm spell that occurs after the first frost of squab winter and before the entrance of actual winter it has been called late summer sham summer of the 5th season. All Hallows summer Redman's summer and smoke season. It is a brief season of quiet beauty that occurs when most people are back from vacation and the fewest Americans therefore are at liberty to appreciate it. Legend has it that Indian Summer was so named because of the atmospheric haze present at that time and that the pioneers associated it with Indian war fires. Actually this was the season when the red man went into the interior to prepare for winter hunting and they often mentioned Indian fires where only those used for scaring the game into traps
and groups of hunters. The blue haze of Indian Summer is caused by salt particles within the air that settled during the autumnal change of high altitude prevailing wind patterns this season of haze. The last sweet smile of the declining years still reigns from coast to coast as the most American of American seasons. Its magnitude as far superseded its historical interest through Indian lore it seems to be a most appropriate introduction to a very well written piece on this period of the year by Jim Bishop one of America's favorite columnists and writer of the famous the day Christ died and other fine books. This column by Mr. Bishop isn't titled The sweet season is coming. This will be the best. The rivers flow quiet and cold in fact fish fracture the wet mare. Wild Ducks break formation to come down in the tall reeds. A summer anger of the sun has mellowed in a comes up over the blue veils of morning
mist to give the milkman a long shadow. It is a time for sleeping. The breeze is cool and it sweeps the leaves into little whirling bowls of cornflakes. The Pheasant cock scratches the ground ruffles his feathers and watches a speckled hen. A cat digs her paws into a rug and pulls against them in a long stretch stares balefully at the world through yellow eyes and dozes cellars an attic so clean and debris sits on top of the refuse cans at the curb. A girl going on a date is told by her mother. But I work out from kindergarten the first little drawings I brought home to mother a man Moez a lawn and mutters I was a terribly The last time. From a window an announcer says Carnegie Tech takes the cake on its own four and runs it back to the 19. The sea is quiet during its long green fingers into the scalp of sand on shore far out. A rusty freighter with spiri as pride moves off the edge of the world.
A big oak moons in the night wind because summer is gone and a long sleep is ahead. I farm the hounds sit quietly outside the kitchen tails twitching waiting for the man with the gun across the Great Plains miles and miles of gold wheat are cut and adjusted by the big combine Zz and corn shocks stand Crispin death. A tailor a dry cleans a top coat and tries to match a button. Crisp crisscross curtains go up behind windows the oilman leaves the first bill of the season in the mail box near the breakfast table. School bus tickets and sandwiches wait on the drawing board for a child who doesn't want to get out of bed. Little huts in the mountains are boarded up a rowboat pulled up from the edge of a lake lies upside down at the shore seagulls walk miles of beach alone picking for baby crabs in the sand. For days the sky is deep blue and cloudless the air has a clear sparkle to it and the odor of burning leaves. It's a profit supplies the perfume of autumn
the good shows are back on television and the teenagers demand to know why they can't stay up till 11. The man at the filling station says that the car could stand a tune up. When their life saving goes out everyone asks Now I turn the clock back or forward. The news commentators warn us about hurricanes that are a thousand miles away and die there. A round orange moon runs down a country dance on a hay ride. A laughing girl looks up seriously at a boy chewing on a straw and murmurs. Don't say that unless you mean it. Birds fly south and ahead of honeysuckle hangs in the air. Church steeples mark the clear sky and the little girl puts on her Dr. Denton 100s and forgets to shut the trap door. An old lady sits on a rocker in a home and squints as she watches one more season die. Soon she too will go and she no longer minds because she has seen all this
so many times. An infant draws his tiny knees up as the hunger pain hits him and he wails for service. A teenager on a telephone says I'd like to but my mother says I have to wash all the windows outside. On Broadway the big shows staged their opening nights nights when the show on a sidewalk is better than the one on the stage in the deep woods. The colors make drunk the eyes. It is a season of plumage and death. The sweet season. And a sweet piece of writing from Mr. Jim Bishop. From which we move on to the crisp season. The time of color riot in deep breaths. October. No one has written more observantly and fervently in this time of the year than Thomas Wolfe in his novel of time on the river published by Charles Scribner's Sons. This packed passage from which I'm about to read selections is one of the most famous in all of Wolf's long hand Jerrick
to his native land. October has come again now October has come again which in our land is different from October in other lands. They're ripe. The golden month has come again. And in Virginia the chicken pens are falling Frost shops the middle music of the season all things living on earth turn home again. The country is so big you cannot say the country has the same October in Maine. The frost comes sharp and quick as driven nails just for a week or so. The woods all of the bright and bitter leaves flare up and maples turn a blazing bitter red and other leaves turn yellow like a living light falling about you as you walk the woods falling about you like small pieces of the sun so that you cannot say where the sunlight shakes and flutters on the ground and where the leaves. And the great winds hold and swoop across the land. They make a distant roaring and great trees and boys in bed will stare in ecstasy thinking of demons and vast sweepings through the earth all through the night there is the clean the bitter rain of acorns and the
chestnut burrs a plopping to the ground. And often in the night there is only the living silence the distant frosty barking of a dog the small comes the stir and feathery stumble of the chickens on a line roosts and the moon low and heavy moon of autumn now barred behind the leafless poles of pines. Now at the pine woods brooding edge in Summit now falling with ghosts dawn of milky light upon the rind clods of fields on the frosty scurf on pumpkins now whiter smaller brighter hanging against the steeple slope hanging in the same way in a million streets steeping all the earth and frost and silence. Then a chime of frost cold Bells May peal out on the brooding air and people lying in their beds will listen. They will not speak or stir or silence will nod the darkness like a rat but they will whisper in their hearts. Summer has come and gone has come and gone and now. But they will say no more. They will have no more to say. They will wait listening.
Silent and brooding as the frost to time strange ticking time dark time that haunts us with the briefness of our days. They will think of men long dead of men now buried in the earth of frost and silence long ago of a forgotten face and moments of lost time. And they will think of things they have no words to utter. And in the night in the dark in the living sleeping silence of the towns the million streets they will hear the thunder of the fast express the whistles of great ships upon the river. What will they say then. What will they say that. And so we've come full circle and winter is once again at hand. Soon it will be the appropriate time for Mark mandarins words dim the ways of snow and great high darkness. Strange the sound of whiteness coming visible to the ground. Spring Summer Fall and Winter and the ineffable wonder of a passing time.
I hope we've enjoyed this program of time of the seasons on that you plan to be with me next week for a decided change of pace with a programme entitled off beat included will be a potpourri of items gathered with no particular plan from a multitude of sources. Amusing. Profound. Touching perceptive all revelatory of the American car. Until next week and this is Dick Burdick sang along. Listen to the land is produced and recorded at station w h y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is James Keeler inviting you to join us next week for offbeat to listen to the land with your host and narrator Richard espec. This is the NE the radio network.
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Listen to the land
Of time and the seasons
Producing Organization
WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents American writings on time and seasons.
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.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Voegeli, Don
Writer: Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972
Writer: Bishop, Jim, 1907-1987
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-54-14 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:28
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Chicago: “Listen to the land; Of time and the seasons,” 1960-11-22, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Listen to the land; Of time and the seasons.” 1960-11-22. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Listen to the land; Of time and the seasons. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from