Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 2
Listen to the land the profile of a nation in terms of its living language. This week barracks battlefields on birthrights part to. Station in Philadelphia is producing listen to the land under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. These are the writings of America by Americans on the subject of our national character. Now here is your host and the writer Richard S.. From out the dragging vastness of the sea wave fettered bound and send us seaweed strands. He toils toward the rounding beach and stands one moment white and dripping silently cut like a cameo and lies a lot. And follows betrayed by shifting shells and lands prone in the Gerring water and his hands clutch for support where no
support can be. So up and down and forward inch by inch he gains upon the shore where poppies glow and sand flies dance their little lives away. The sucking waves retired and tighter clench the weeds about him. But the land winds blow and in the sky there blooms the sun of May. That was convalescence poem by. Amy Lowe written in the period of World War 1. You may have noted that despite its gracefulness and poetic lilt it is not at all a feminine poem but combines an aesthetic statement with a graphic impact. Amy Lowell did not confine herself to writing poems during America's period of war. She was active in providing libraries of modern poetry for all the training camps in the United States during World War One and for several hospitals her war poems appear in men
women and ghosts and other volumes. And this is by way of introduction to part two of our two part program on Barak's battlefields and birthrights America at war. Last week we concerned ourselves with the revolutionary and the civil wars. Or if you prefer the War Between the States. And this week we move on to world wars one and two. Our purpose here is not to comment on war or to give a definitive picture of this country's participation in wars but rather to sample the diverse articulations of battle and its backgrounds with the intent of underscoring the range of the words set down on paper about them by our fellow countrymen past and present. Grim and horrible as war is. Americans in particular always preserve their sense of humor about certain aspects of it. This is especially true of the training camp period and during World War One a slender volume of letters was published by
Frederick a Stokes company with the title dear Mabel the Love Letters of a rocky which became an immediate bestseller. The letters were written by Edward Streeter of the twenty seventh New York division who today is a New York banker who still manages to turn out rollicking bestsellers as exemplified by his book Father of the bride published a few years ago and made into a successful motion picture. Mr. Streeters expert touch in developing a portrait of a not too bright smug and hapless dull boy a private bill smith. Impresses us with the same elements of basic humor today as it did to readers back in 1918. Here now is one of the letters to dear Mabel. Dear Mabel I've been thinking a lot of you during the last week Mable have a nothing else to do. I've been in the hospital with the Bronx itis. I guess I caught it from Joe Loomis. He comes from there. I really
went bad but I dropped my fountain pen on the floor in Bennett. I'm alright now. I got some news for you I'm able to cook says we only do 10 days supply of food last time he says he guesses when me up that up will go to France you know awful smart for the cook. He's got a bet on that if the Allies don't buck up and when the Germans is coming out I had Max glucose a fellow in the town as referee. We're all eating as fast as we can. Perhaps we can eat it all in less than 10 days. So maybe it will be gone Mabel before I write you from here again. There's a French sergeant comes around once in a while and says the war is going to be over quick. He ought to know because he's been over there and seen the whole thing. He smokes cigarettes something awful and don't say much. That's because a poor cuss can't talk much English. Must be awful not to talk English. Think of not being able to say nothing all your life without waving your arms around and then looking up in the dictionary. I feel so
sorry for these fellows that I'm studying French a lot harder so I don't have someone to talk to when we get over there. I'm reading a book now that's wrote all in French knowing that you know anywhere Mable a fello told me that was the only way to talk it good. I don't understand very well so far the only way I know it's French is by the pictures. Someday I'm going to find out what the name is that I'm going to get the English of it. Those are some pictures and I fears Mabel. I guess that's why I get on with the women too good. I gave up read it out loud because it follows that I made him think there was in Paris so much they got restless. I can speak no better yet. I guess that comes all at once at the end of the book. As soon as we get the hot showers all fixed the pipes busted. So the other day the captain walked us all in town to take a bath. I didn't need one much. I use my had more than most. Last fall when it was warm I took as many as two a week and got way ahead of the game. I went along no more for the
walk and anything. I saw the captain didn't make no move to take a bath as I thought he might be shy. He don't mix very well with fellows. I felt sorry for me everyone else was laughing and throwing things with him standing off and no one throwing a thing on him. I went up and says they were going to take a bath this winter to a captain just jolly Mable that's all. I said you don't want to mind a bunch they don't care a bit. There is dirty as you are anyway probably more and I bet they were made because I ain't seen the captain do a stroke of work since we come here just stands around giving orders. I says if no one won't lend you a towel you can use mine. I was just going to have it washed anyway. He got awful red and embarrassed Mabel. I thought he was going to joke. He's awful queer. Just like the other morning he called me over and said Psmith my orderly sec you can shine my boots this morning. He said like I've been begging him to for a month and then he says Smith you can light the fire in my stove.
He got me thinking he was doing me favors. He said I might put some more oil on his boots if I wished. I said that would be a great treat and I wish he wouldn't be so kind of the fellows would think he was playing favorites. I guess he didn't hear me because he just gone up. I said it anyway. I didn't care if he wasn't there spunky. That's me all over. I couldn't find no one for his boots anywhere Mable So I poured some out of his lamp and then I don't think that suited him. Where fell on a gap. So I keep hearing more about this fellow Bruggen as you write about. I suppose he belongs to the Home Guards and wears his uniform around in the evening and I suppose he has an American flag on his writing paper. Well I don't mean nothing to my life. I'm going to put up no arguments or get nasty like most fellows would dignity. That's me all over Mable. Let me tell you I don't if I ever come home and find him shining his elbows on the top of your baby grand I'll kick him down the
front steps that I only have one leg to do it with. I'm writing this in the YMCA in the afternoon because I'm going on guard tonight. I don't see why they don't make it a Brahmin to detail and be done with it. Someone said the top sergeant's a man of one idea. I guess I'm the idea. I didn't go out to drill this afternoon I didn't say nothing to the sergeant doga sergeants have an idea that if they don't get a lot of fellows they go out the drill with them. They don't look so popular. Well I got to go now so as to get in my tent before they come from drill. As ever on guard. Bill. Now we make an oblique or as they say in the army and a blank. The part you're hearing from our purpose of strictly American writings but with a hope forgivable intent. Erich Maria Remarque is a German by birth but came to this country in 1039 after exile by the Nazis.
He had been a teacher a race driver a test driver a sport editor a dramatic critic and an author in his novels he became a spokesman of a generation that felt itself lost after the war. And his most famous novel published in one thousand twenty nine. One of the most famous war knowledge novels of all time as a matter of fact wasn't titled All Quiet On The Western Front published in this country by Little Brown and Company and later made into an outstanding motion picture. The book recounts the experiences of five German classmates and two of their friends in and out of battle in a grim unflinching brutally realistic prose that is inextricably interwoven with a literate year of the Americans against whom they fought. It is as much a part of us as ours as of them. At the end of the novel only two of the protagonists are left all of the others one by one having met death in battle.
Paul Bremmer a leading figure and his friend Stanislav Scott's and Skee known as Cat are the ones remaining. It is the summer of 1989. The food is bad the guns are bad and the ranks are filled with hopeless soldiers and the enemy's tanks and troops are fresh and fit than cats. Shin a smashed and well let Eric Maria Remarque it tell his own story through the eyes of Paul bomber. Behind us well a rainy week gray sky gray fluid earth Gray dying. There are so many airmen here and they're so sure of themselves that they give chase to single individuals just as though they were hares for every one German plane that come at least five English an American or one hungry wretch a German soldier come five of the enemy fresh and fit for one German army love. There are fifty tons of
canned beef over there. We are not beaten as soldiers we are better and more experienced. They're simply crushed and driven back by overwhelmingly Sapir your forces. We never get dry. Those who still wear high boots tie sandbags around the top so that the mud does not pour in so fast. The rifles are caped uniforms a caked everything is fluid and dissolved the earth one dripping soaked oily mass in which lie the yellow pools with a red spiral streams of blood and into which the dead wounded and survivors slowly sink down. The storm lashes us out of the confusion of gray and yellow the hail of splinters whips forth the childlike cries of the wounded and in the night shattered life groans wearily into the silence
our hands our earth our bodies clay in our eyes pools of rain. We do not know whether we still live. Then the heat sinks heavily into our shell holes like a jellyfish moist and oppressive. And on one of these late summer days while bringing food cat falls we two are alone. I bind up his wound his shin seems to be smashed. It has got the bone and cat groans desperately at last. Just a last a comforting cat who knows how long the mess will go on yet now you are saved. The wound begins to bleed fast. The cat cannot be left by himself while I try to find
a stretcher. Anyway I don't know of a stretcher bearers post in the neighborhood. Cat is not very heavy. I take him up on my back and start off to the dressing station with him. Twice we rest. He suffers acutely on the way. We do not speak much. I open the collar of my tunic and breathe heavily I sweat. My face is swollen with the strain of carrying. All the same I urge him to let us go on but the place is dangerous. Well so we go on again get my ball and come. I raise him up. He stands on the on injured leg and supports himself against a tree. I take up the wounded leg carefully then he gives a jump and I take the knee of the sound leg also under my arm.
The going is more difficult often a shell whistles across. I go as quickly as I can for the blood from cat's wound drips to the ground. We cannot shelter ourselves properly from the explosions before we can take cover. The danger is all over. We lie down in a small shell hold arrest I give Kat some tea from my water bottle. We smoke a cigarette. Well cat we are going to be separated at last. He is silent and looks at me during a member a cat. We commandeered that goose. Now you brought me out of the barrage when I was still a young recruit and was wounded for the first time. I cried then cat that is almost three years ago. He nods. The anguish of solitude rises up in me when a cat is taken away I will not I will not have one friend left cat in any case.
We must see one another again if it is peace time before you come back. The last bit early do you think that I will be marked anyone again with this leg or with rest it will get better kept the joint is all right it may limp a bit in the other cigarette. Perhaps we could do something together later on Kat. I'm very miserable. It is impossible that cat cat my friend cat with a drooping shoulders and a poor thin moustache cat whom I know as I know no other man cat with whom I have shared these years is impossible that perhaps I shall not seek out again. In any case give me your address at home Kat. And here is mine I will write it down for you. I write as I address in my pocket book for Lauren I am already though he still sits here beside me. Couldn't I shoot myself quickly in the foot so as to be able to go with him. Suddenly cat gurgles and turns green and yellow.
But what does go on. I jump up eager to help him I take him up and start off at a run. A slow steady pace so as not to jolt his leg too much. My throat is parched. Everything dense is red and black before my eyes. I stagger on doggedly and piteously and at last reach the dressing station where I drop down to my knees but I've still enough strength to fall on to the side where cats sound Legace after a few minutes I straighten myself up again. My legs in my hands tremble. I have trouble in finding my water bottle to take a pool. My lips tremble as I try to drink but I smile. Kat is saved after a while I begin to sort out the confusion of voices it falls on my ears might have spared yourself that. So as an orderly I look at him without comprehending. He points to cat is stone dead. I do not understand him. He has been hit in the shin.
I say the orderly stand still that is while I turn round my eyes are still dulled the sweat breaks out on the again it runs over my eyelids. I wipe it away and Pierrot cat. You lie still find it. I say quickly. The orderly whistle softly I know better than that is that I lay any money on it and shake my head. Possible but only ten minutes ago I was talking to him here he has fainted. Cat's hands are warm I passed my arm under his shoulders in order to rub his temples with some tea. I feel my fingers become Maurice. So I draw them away from behind his head they're bloody. You see the orderly whistles once more through his teeth on the way without my having noticed that cat has caught a splinter in the head. It's just one little hole. Musta been a very
tiny stray splinter but it has sufficed. God is dead. Slowly I get up. Would you like to take his pay book in his things. Lance-Corporal asks me and I need give them to me. The orderly as mystified. They're not related I or we are not related. No we are not related. Do I walk at my feet still. I raise my eyes I let them move around and turn myself with them. One circle one circle and I stand in the midst all as usual. Only the militia mind Stanislaus that since Key has died and I know nothing nor. We move on now by the grace of time and with no apparent aging in the process.
Two World War Two. But not without a chill at the thought that world wars must have numerical a benefit cation Thomas Hornsby Ferril in his book of poems and titled trial by time published by Harper and brothers wrote a poem which he called no mark which although quite brief sums up very succinctly the contract in material identification between the men in America's wars who fought on the ground and those who fought in the air. Corn grew where the corn was spilled in the wreck where Casey Jones was killed. Scrub oak grows and sassafras around a shady stone you past a show where Stonewall Jackson fell that Saturday at Chancellorsville and soap weighed by a not so steeled across the Custer Battlefield where you died the sky is black the little wild cracking flak
then Ocean closes very still above your skull that held our will. Oh swing away white go like Evening Star. Be beautiful. I think that says it very nicely if you will check your watch or clock at this point against the time we started. You will see we have only brief minutes remaining. This has been deliberate on my work table as I planned. This program stood stacks of books several feet high from libraries and bookstores containing the writings of World War 2 in the Korean War. Bill Malden John Steinbeck JAMES JONES Margaret Higgins Quentin Reynolds Marion Hargrove the list of writers could fill a program such as this and names alone. And yet I have a feeling that most of you have read a good many of these writings and they're all within recent memory so I'm going to respect your own rating and
power of retention and close this program with just one more item about World War 2. A selection from the writings of a man who spoke for every Slue Foot slogging doughboy every man every boy who knew the smell of powder and death on land or sea or in the air during the period in which he wrote. His name was Ernie Pyle and he gave his own life in the same reluctant bewildered but her own like way at the reluctant bewildered but heroic millions of not only wrote gave theirs or were willing to and in his book. Here is your war. A collection of his columns published by Consolidated Book Publishers in 1944. Ernie Pyle closes with a statement about war that in my opinion says everything there is to say. There just isn't anymore after this and I can think of no better way to close this program. Now. We are in a lull and many of us are having a short rest period.
I tried the city and couldn't stand it. Two days drove me back to the country where everything seemed cleaner and more decent. I'm in my tent sitting on a newly acquired cot writing on a German folding table we picked up the day of the big surrender. An occasional black beetle strolls honestly across the sandy floor for two hours I've been watching one of them struggling with a cigarette butt on the ground trying to move it. I don't know why I feel the way I do for I feel pity for all men because they are men. It may be that the war has changed me along with the rest. It is hard for anyone to analyze and solve. I know that I find more and more that I wish to be alone and yet contradictorily I believe I have a new patients with humanity that I've never had before. When you've lived with the unnatural mass cruelty that mankind is capable of inflicting upon itself you find yourself dispossessed of the faculty for blaming one poor man for the triviality of his faults.
I don't see how any survivor of war can ever be cruel to anything ever again. Yes I want the war to be over just as keenly as any soldier in North Africa wants it. This little interlude of passive contentment here in the Mediterranean shore is a mean temptation. It is a beckoning into somnolence. This is the kind of day I think I want my life to be composed of endlessly. Pretty soon we will strike our tents and drapes again after the clanking tanks sleep again to the incessant lullaby of the big rolling guns. It has to be that way and wishing doesn't change it. It may be I have unconsciously made war seem more awful than it really is. It would be wrong to say that war is all grim if it were the human spirit could not survive two and three and four years of it. There is a good deal of gayety in war time. Some of us even over here are having the time of
our lives. Humor and exuberance still exist as some soldier once said The Army is good for one ridiculous laugh per minute. Our soldiers are still just as roughly good humored as they always were and they laugh easily although there isn't as much to laugh about as there used to be. And I don't attempt to deny that war is vastly exhilarating. The whole temple of life steps up both at home and on the front as an intoxication about battle. An ordinary man can sometimes soar clear out of themselves on the line of danger emotion and yet its faults. When we leave here to go on into the next battleground. I know that I for one will go with the greatest reluctance on the day of the final peace. The last stroke of what we call the big picture will be drawn. I haven't written anything about the
big picture because I don't know anything about it. I only know what we see from our worm's eye view in our segment of the picture consists only of tired and dirty soldiers who are alive and don't want to die a long darkened convoys in the middle of a night of shock. Silent man wandering back down the hill from battle of chow lines and how to bring tablets and foxholes and burning tanks and Arabs holding up eggs and the rustle of high flown shells of Jeeps and petrol dumps and smelly bedding rolls and C-rations and cactus patches and blown bridges and dead mules and hospital tents and shirt collars a greasy black from months of wearing. And of laughter to an anger in wine and lovely flowers and constant cussing. All these it is composed of and of graves
and graves and Graves. That is our war and we will carry it with us as we go on from one battleground to another until it is all over. Leaving some of us behind on every beach in every field. We are just beginning with the ones who live back of us here in Tunisia. I don't know what it was their good fortune or their misfortune to get out of it so early in the game. I guess it doesn't make any difference really. Once a man is gone. Medals and speeches and victories are nothing to them anymore. They died and others lived and nobody knows why those oh they died and thereby the rest of us can go on and on. When we leave here for the next shore there's nothing we can do for the ones beneath the wooden crosses except perhaps to pause and murmur thanks pal.
Listen to the land produced and recorded by 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 the program of time and the seasons on. Listen to the land with your host and our writer Richard S. birding. This is the end AB Radio Network.
- Listen to the land
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- WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- Episode Description
- This program, the second of two parts, focuses on American literature related to war, particularly World War I and World War II.
- Series Description
- A profile of a nation in terms of its living language. By sharing aloud the writings of the United States, past and present, a fuller appreciation of what it means to be American can be found.
- War and Conflict
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Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Voegeli, Don
Writer: Eitzen, Lee
Writer: Streeter, Edward, 1891-1976
Writer: Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925
Writer: Ragan, Sam, 1915-1996
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 4982 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 2.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-cv4bt06g>.
- APA: Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 2. 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-cv4bt06g