thumbnail of Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 8 of 9
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
They killed two hours of the 20 remaining over lunch at the Lamb chewing each bite is long and mercilessly as though their stomachs held a ravenous baby's open mouth to suck in the stream of tepid pap. The work of eating also saved them from talk that in their pretense of fervent eavesdropping on the two other guests as late as the day an apoplectic retired colonel and his one daughter wife a colorless moon a horse in flowers whose only words when the old man asked Are you happy. Where. Thank you. Then when even the Colonel had yielded to the waitresses glare of perfect hate it was half past two her life awaited. They finished their coffee and out of the sun for a day like a baby dumped on their doorstep gorgeous but unwanted condemning as an angel and gilding. It made Sarah's body seem gold warm
and workable. Even the black hair transmuting quickly through bronze to gold. They stood a moment. Charles temple and seeing there she knowing he saw it both knowing its deceit. She reached for his wrist. He gave her his hand but she did not take it. I was looking for the time she said. He extended his watch. She studied it carefully and returned it to his side gave him the eighteen hours to rest on the bosom of the deep. They both gave the brief statutory grin. They spoke of her sailing their permanent parting in-jokes the noble experiment ended smiling then stood again loose. Well now she said the church. He said. She nodded step to go. You can say me the poem. A final performance. He smiled bowed slightly double steps to take the lead and they walked down the highstreet separate sisters to the old stone bridge. Short and narrow at the bottom
she looked right to where the spire stood and clear but he pointed to the Crossroads beyond the bridge left to Shipton under which would write to Chipping Norton vital junction still guarded from Nazis by a pill box smothered in roses now its black slot empty and armed and used shielding only village lovers seized here by urgency or traps in the rain they had once crawled into it themselves then amazed by its neatness. No garbage or excrement. But well oppressed earth and a few penciled names. She smiled said. Do you. The words she had chosen all week for last views. Then she ran up the loud wind rush to the roof to the church. He gave her the lead loped behind in her tracks. They had been through the church three or four times together he more often alone or with college friends but they trailed through its dark chilled now as if discovering the Lady Chapel defaced by around here. The lead
front scratched with the name of a prisoner shot by Cromwell next morning in the yard. The Tomb of the barber to Henry the Eighth. Then the small painted bust of Lucius Carey beside his wife's with her breast displayed killed at Newbury aged 33 VI count four and a lot of great too. Friend Ben Johnson and mourned by him. Sarah touched the bus its pink features fresh and vapid as a baby's. Then she said with more force than the stillness required in a man of thirty with a face bare as that deserves to die. It's the sculptor's he said don't blame poor Kerry. But I do she said. If he'd been half a man left behind a man's memory his wife or whoever would have never paid for this. She thumped the smoove Farid thought it had all been granted. So his poem Anyhow Charles Tamplin obeyed for one line in a whisper. It is not growing like a tree then refused clamped
shut. Deserved. She had said she did not deserve this one waste he could spare himself. In his pause she prompted completed the sentence. All she knew of the poem in bulk. Death make man better be. Then she watched him and waited. He did not face her but he shook his head. She accepted walked on so he stood alone and said to himself slowly and clearly to the walls of his skull then Johnson's ten perfect lines to the memory of Carrie. It is not growing like a tree in Bach does it make man better be or standing long ago three hundred year to fall in love at last and see a lily of the day is fairer far in May although it fall and that night it was the plant and flower of light in small proportions. We just Beauty see. And in short measures life may perfect be.
He felt as though a green leaf uncoiled on his lips a kindness to himself the first four weeks as though he might yet survive the scorch lived to tell the tale. What tale has him say or is that one he knew only tale there was name one other than there was nothing so grand as betrayal or treason. Only the oldest story of the simple entire failure to meet to serve one another and delight in the work. Imagine a life of telling that stories poems for another fifty years. Well he could and must. Beginning tomorrow in eighteen hours his own small proportion just beauty alone. When stronger for the moment of solitude you see had wandered toward Sara a past altar and choir he found her not in tears nor with her pallor of victim but with head back eyes wide and fixed on a spot high above on the crowded wall the skin of her forehead and jaw taut
with triumph. Do you know that she said not facing him she pointed to a marble plaque. Bartholomew he knew of a house by that name in the village but this he had missed a long inscription. He shook his head no and began to read silently. I found it she said and forced him to listen. Lo huddled up together like a great age green youth white infancy. If death death nature's laws dispense and reconciles all difference to spit one flesh one house should have one to one Epitaph One grave and they that lived and love it either should die and lie and sleep together. Go read where the go or stay must not be long away. He herded to the end. Eyes on her. Not the poem. Then he left half ran to the south door of the yard and had run through half the ruining
tombs there of wool merchant stone wool sacks on each. Before he knew he was fleeing again he stopped in the light and though he did not turn knew she had not followed was still inside. Could he leave her there now go his own way at last unexplained free. Give her all the time she needed to copy memorize digest her newest triumph then find her own way to Southampton her ship. No. He turned. She stepped through the south door herself into Sun walked briskly to him. It's better she said. It's a better poem. It could change whole lives. He shrugged in a quick gust of wind. Spring will drive toward Shipton he said they had snow. So they had a late flurry two days before which rare patches clung on in the sun at the roots of trees the levy of war as he drove them slowly upward through the long empty hills it was all they had to fasten on the hunt for snow like a child's hunt for lucky white horses to stamp. He would see a white patch
point it silently to her she would crane silently then find one herself. Time on real behind them an exhausted ribbon. Then they reached a crest and rode for a while on its bare brick Ridge not a flake of snow not a house of tree for half a mile Charles damp and continued searching the rising taste of panic plating his teeth. At last again they were locked alone together and all his doing a simple ride to kill a day as painlessly as possible and now the whole world in conspiracy had slunk into hiding leaving him and her her on him. No escape no choice only needs to face their airless symbiosis to swallow their sentence to accept. But she did not speak continued searching too. So the panic leached away and he felt alone not with her but with her story. Hers then hears this very day a well-shaped story itself then neutral lunch his moment of flight. And now this ride which would last and will bring them down
silently from the hills into would start a walk by the darkening lake at the lake sliding through a whole gallery of painters with each moment's change of light. Caro Manet Manet Corbett supper at the bare then Oxford separate sleep in the morning a car and he drove now mechanically no longer looking seeing only the shape of that story lean and rounded as small said proportion short measure but beautiful. He was smiling slightly. He was healing safe. Look he said he looked straight ahead hit the brake belly stop a flock of ten sheep filled the road buffed his fenders. My God she said you know the killers. He went invisibly at her automatic. Us women had invented the first person plural. When we got our doctorate when we were in the army but the whole offered site was compensation the stalled car straddled a narrow road.
The road was the spine of the highest hill side sloped away quickly on to mile the hills green and gold prospect hung like flats effect in a 19th century play. Villages towers Laurens of life she filled the road before him and were aiming right with through a bleached stone wall down the sinking slope. Grass seemed no greener there than where they had left Browner in fact and the squat bear fruit tree was all the shade but that seemed their aim. Why to see the other side. They crossed on another half minute or so rising from the left I skittish near the car but bent all the same on their profitless choice as those south island lay yards away sweet green to their knees then a black dog shot by Harris Sergeant smartening his mind butting nosing in furious silence. Or was it the car glass excluded all noise all sense but vision. Charles Templeton felt himself suspended space and time. This might as easily be Galilee as Oxfordshire before Christ. Before green hills burnt to
sand and with the last sheep mostly slow new lambs a shepherd Rose Young himself and slow maybe fourteen red haired credible David. A stick in his right hand which hung loose language oblivious to his flock as he hopped the shallow ditch stepped into the road. He might have been awakened that instant by warmth drawn from sleep under leaves by Sun. The melted snow his eyes squinted sleepily his face hair and clothes seemed fresh with dirt of hibernation. He took less notice of the car than his sheep passed an arm's reach from it never flickered a glance only at the last moment of his profile. He faltered a step cocked his chin as though listening but to something ahead in his own slow path. Another sound Charles Tamplin strained to hear bought by a glass yet though the road was clear now he did not move to crank the car or speak for the shepherd had reached the bare fruit tree and he's gone on
that now and reached to the ground at its roots where a patch of snow no larger than a plate had survived both sun and the trampling flock. Now he stood face to around 8 a handful of snow rubbed the rest on his eyes smiled awake now and quick. Quite clearly to Sara said a word to her waved his lips had said sorry. Sara smiled and returned nodding pardon to him happily. He took it waved again then ran with his dog out of sight down the slope. Charles stamp and look to Sarah. The back of her head. She still watched the boy of the space where he'd stood in stage his grace as natural as breath. She was gone now a foot away. Still here beside him but gone for good. There were other doors she had seen that at last had opened one at least and shot another. The crown of her black hair stood now against him the thickest gate barred
perilous. He cranked the engine shifted gear quietly. She still faced the bare tree and snow. So Charles dampened thought they could move on now toward the end of the day tired and calm. But the wheels had not rolled one turn. Before he knew clearly and from her as though her hidden eyes had flung it back with a vise for his heart that the day the story ended here not before or later ended with a happy boy's word with Sarah's smile an end but a door blown fiercely open on a world older simpler deeper than he had known. A family huddled together in death. A handful of snow in early spring light Asari through glass a smiling pardon a small proportion. Gigantic perhaps crushing stifling but just and most beautiful. A possible tale of possible life secret extended to all but him
yet tale life secret which it now must be his duty to describe celebrate a door at a distance. The happiness of others. He adored them through tears. But blend him now. Then a sleepless night. Their final day. The second piece is very brief. It's called life a life. And as I said I think of it as a personal Elegy. The sifting the debris of my mother's death deaf mother of trash old bankbooks canceled checks my numb hands find an emblem of her life a stack of records
brittle seventy eight which I have not played through in 20 years. Island planted by her in her death. Pleasant garbage to relieve my chore. I rocked back on the haunches smiles suck breath hot July breath then lift the records to a cooler room and led the ole Victrola through it which like every other thing that I hear now she's dead it leaps to duty eager accurate spins. I pile on half the stack fall heavily into my father's chair still dark with his head oil. He did ten years surrender to the random waiting order. Who made Destin as a menial look that I Carino Then suddenly as bombs within the room the 40s Spike Jones Chloe crash of kitchens through laughter crash of Warsaw London Frankfurt then Franklin Roosevelt 1941 the 8th of December I asked for Congress to declare it thirteen on my own I sent
for this from NBC a birthday gift for father have pain have peeved reject it harshly still covered by one more. The next disk clatter of change a roll of needle voice. Good morning Mrs. Jones My name is price I have come to show. My father's voice forgotten lost now around me in his room. Slow calm. The only music he could make 21 years of daily hearing it ten years gone I could no more have heard it in my head than Lincoln's voice. I have often tried at night to dredge it back send it looping through some favorite joke some mimic even to bear again its last few words nonsense. Fierce is flail across my eyes goggled from cancerous lungs through silver tube. But here again I have him. And remember. A demonstration record made by him in 1940 when he had sold more toasters fans
lamps stoves than any other salesman in the state. And his reward was asked to speak his pitch in lasting way X reward when he was locked in blank torn it down in his thirst to drink drown finally and baffled to find 10 Simple Dollar bills to meet this month's new howling credit. I down my own need to stop him. I grant him the rest of his respite reward Mrs Jones do you know that many children he says will suffer poor eyes in years to come just because of the light they study by his just is jest. I had even lost there at the jest that littered his life. Every speech of the thousands he for years and reeled on the stoops of strangers in curious ungrateful merely and rightly bored whole lives being daily laid at their feet reeled out from twitching guts like a garden hose. The past shames present needs of grinning beggars postman parents lovers mirrored selves.
Now Mrs. Jones if you will say the word I'll bring you want to prove all our new floor lamp. No obligation on your part at all. I say the word she never can call no n and his endless bottled plea for hope. Next record plays bold irony black jest Anderson sings cæsar told of bark. So far this week there I have given you minutes silence rest vowed not to force you through your pitch again to seal the vow I look up to your picture on the wall. Deep walnut frame the window on your face. 19 18 you 18 yourself the worst of war's hung bleeding overhead. Your brother Edward's lungs already gassed your own guard button in your left lapel and eagle spread above a waiting world. You will be called Four weeks from now yourself but saved in port by
armistice and still your gaze though high is clear and doubting a surety that even now seems firm not boyish foolishness seems well informed as though you saw your detailed happy futures. A life like water clear needed useful permanent free spared all you will so soon acquire drink wife sons labor thirty six more years. I touch the glass above your silent mouth. Say silently dear boy. Dear gray eyes broad nose curling lip a lot on your Browning cracking paper card. I offer you my life. Look it will serve. Cancel all plan of me. Let me not be so you may have free time.
Move always sure except with smooth hands what your eyes still see in you. Brute. Ambush of your gurgling death. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Thank you. But what what does that help with a general disguised fiction that I thought of both extremely moving at the last. Let's be suspiciously moving in the other. I thought it a test of moving on to.
Very difficult to categorize. Yes well I'm not I'm not moving on necessary to do so but I want to talk me through Listen to read the best of the last pieces of the something that is intensely personal to him it comes so obviously I have a third deep place in the writer's own life that I. That or it won't will it seems ungrateful of wanted to think about the exact devices that the fiction necessitates but maybe this is a discredit to me that I was much interested in this in the sheer device of having a whole bunch of records played like this through its case U.S. Navy device. What happened of course. Yes right that's the whole point. Yes it would have happened but it but it's also an intensely
fictional kind of kind of book presentation as well. And it enables you to release some of the energies of fiction by by the form that black women have made enough now. A reminiscence of once the death of one mother and its own like this could it could have been much less moving than that. If that particular form had not been found. It seems to me I mean there's so much good is written about the same the same thing. It could have been more of that. But in this case it was because what Mr Elliot would have called the objective corroborative was found which which which enabled the author to to to give it really to give the experience to two other people and this seems to me to be important. After all it is it is an art.
And that and that's what the meaning of art is that you can find in the forms that will occasion a release of this song but it's very much of a giving and sharing thing but in order to share truly and deeply with someone else you've got to find the form by which to transfer the emotion and that that's simple to the device of the record. Like say for me to do that magnificent play well again there is that double edged kind of thing that the limo of saying Gee that was a nice device you found one doesn't want to do that and yet really that's what it comes comes down to it it's really after I get down. Does give does that all the imponderables I mean that in that last Elegy I read of the important things it seems to me that the things that can't be defined as basic can't be taught things that can't be actually or dog. There is no pathology that sort of thing. Oh I don't I don't look
out. Look at the bit about the dog. Everything every word has to be in precisely the place that it belongs in including the articles. When you're going on my side. I dealt with but I don't think there is a pathology that. Well why would we all without turn this into a seminar. It could be argued to sort of taken up what you said that if the word which changes around to a different order from which pool from which they do in fact occur are a different thing would happen. Right. DEREK Yes. So OK. Again Lebanon this is this is a big sort of large seminar. And we don't want to do that when we don't see anything as intense intense leg moving as Mr. prices fiction ours.
What would you say about what we say about Joe. Prob probably probably shouldn't be in a classroom. Maybe they can take it apart but here we just want to experience it. So on we don't want to we don't want to lay it up on the seminar table rather a small one like a dead cat in a biology lab. For this action all of the great steaming up of glasses. Which I just published a book of criticism of the right in which I laid great stress on exactly the OB the TOD the question that I'm defending and I know that there's something much better than analysis. In connection with the works of art and that is to say in them. And
Library of Congress lectures II
Episode Number
Episode 8 of 9
Producing Organization
WUOM (Radio station : Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-mk658g2v).
Other Description
For series info, see Item 3701. This prog.: Novelists John Cheever and Reynolds Price read from their prose works and discuss the state of fiction in the U.S. today.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producer: Library of Congress
Producing Organization: WUOM (Radio station : Ann Arbor, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-40-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:00
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 8 of 9,” 1968-10-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 8 of 9.” 1968-10-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: Library of Congress lectures II; Episode 8 of 9. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from