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June 03, 1939 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1939-06-03
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tain skyline at sunset (you know, Fat,
I betcha there's still Indians in them
Catskills, sure there, are), discovering
the library, Andrew Carnegie erected
1910 by the people of Hagersville, refus-
ing to play ball for the Methodists,
pants taken off, smashing the window
in the church basement, the preacher
stiff-lipped but forcing a smile in his
neatly arranged odorless study,
Mother's face grey against the pure
white satin of the lining of the casket,
(The first tragedy, the revolution
that makes of a boy a man.)
high school, driving through the Cat-
skills with Jeannie, bringing Jeannie
home when Dad was in Syracuse,.
ro. Albany, Dad coming home at mid-
night, Jeannie crying, Dad sending him
to Grandad's,
and the smell of stables, smell of sweat
chaff, soaking through overalls, the stiff
cold frozen manure pile and the smell
of sausage from the cold bedroom, the
high grey house and the road going to
... . Rushville . . . no, Rushford and the
Grange hall and the white church, barn
dance and sweet cider and tall girls
with thick ankles,
(These sturdy daughters of the soil
i who look up to no Venus.)
remember college and the empty ciga'
rptte packs, going cautiously to the
house on Clay Street when you got hold
of a buck, sharpening pencils with a
razor, scribbling scribbling in the cold.
room, sleeping on the drone of sociology
lecture, Harry who got drunk in he
room (or was it Duke, sure it was Duke)
Bert who had introduced him to Ulysses,
Bert who was clever as hell and got
those checks every month pay to the
order of, $155 $70 $130, Ellen who
was much too soft and the smell every-
where of cheap beer, stammering to the
dean, staring at the black wart on the
dean's eyebrow and thinking fast, God,
why can't I say what I had thought up,
walking across the icy walks the last
time, whistling up the dirty cement
columns the last time, and the five-
dllar check from the magazine in Den-
ver before starting for New York.
frosted ears across Ohio, the chains
rattling on the cars crawling the winter
pavement, the smell of alcohol in radia-
tors, and the cold looks of the well-
muffled drivers . .
My God, I'm dying! It kept coming
back to him. My God, I'm dying! (The
simple stroke of pain, erasing in a
miute these warm castles erected by
. ..and New York, more cold walks,
Whistling up taller dirtier columns, go-
ing up the stairs on Fifth Street, Bob,
xMore scribbing in cold rooms, check for
fifteen bucks one day and getting drunk
at the little Italian joint in the next
summer and the band in the park
heard over the last cigarette, staring at
the red-faced guys with putrid breaths,
walking, with no place to stop,
coming out of the editorial offices
and crying like a damn kid, walking
bitterly home down plate-glass Fifth
remember the night, the bitter cold,
the frozen park when Angelino had re-
fused him and laughed, Angelino with
the silvery laugh, the Neopolitan smile,
Jeannie refusing him., Jeannie with the
light brown hair. Sylvia, Sylvia's hair'
is like, Celia's eyes are like,
thy navel is like a round goblet,
which wanteth not wine.
Refused, no. NO.
(Cold and frozen word set in stone,
the final decision on these helpless

Refusing, all the world refusing, the
college refusing, Dear Sir: Your unpaid
bills here total. Grandad refusing him,
the last one,'Grandson: We have given.
you every chance and we are now giv-
ingya up. We are no longer able to
bxelp yan. - You are paying the price of.

ing the price on the fourth floor back
room Fifth Street, no heat, and Bob
cautioning what do you eat, when do
you eat, paying with jingles to the Mag-
azine of Romance, Passaic, New Jersey,
paying with no money from the Masses,
the story for the ed. down on Forty-
Third (her two beautiful breasts lay
warm and bare as Richard looked pas-
sionately down at her), and in the end
paying with Life, paying with twenty-
two years and a ruptured appendix or
some goddam thing ruptured and no
no one giving a damn,,
no one giving a damn ... WonT you
please give a damn? Won't anybody
volunteer to give a damn? You see,
there's a young man dying and more
than anything else he needs a damn.
Please give a damn, please give for his
sake a damn .-.
(Oh, the irony, the utter irony that
those who see the highest star are
blinded first!)
He caught himself suddenly, grasped

frantically at the bedpost and jumped
upright. For a moment everything had
faded, something had plugged his
throat, everything fading into nothing,
drifting away in two seconds. And snap.'
A quick pull, and he was back.
God, not yet, not yet! he was think-

mg. He remained sitting up, he
his heart beat fast, and his feet3
hot again. The pain spread furthe
was loaded with pain, draggedt
with heavy dull unbearable pain
wouldn't let him move.
His breath came quicker, and h
down, his whole body quivering.
what a way to die, swhat a hell of a
to die, in a cold bed on Fifth S
He was looking straight up; he had
sight of the ceiling, lost touch wit
the noises and the smells,
then for some reason he rememb
Bob. Bob was all right, Bob wa
right, a pretty good guy, Bob, eveni
He turned over toward him,
said: "It's really the last time, E
simply, "a man can sense the end

r, he
e lay
d lost
h all
, fill

all different, you can sense it . .. Bob,
I'm not lying."
He heard the soft-lead pencil gliding
over the sketch paper, and again no
"Jesus, Bob, listen to me! It's real!t
It's real! I can feel it," he whispered
and drama hung on every word. It was
the voice of an ancient prophet, one
who has seen.
Then the pencil stopped, and Bob
got up from his desk. He said in an
even voice: "For Christ's sake, you lug,
shut up! Maybe you think that because
you're a poet and I'm only a lousy
draftsman I'll fall for your sob stuff.
This is your third ruptured appendix
this week, and I'm-not falling for it.
Wake up to yourself and go -to sleep.
Dream for your sympathy. Good night."
Bob sat down at his desk again.
Finality, the quiet ironic finality. ,

With gulls for escort and with grace
Of spring come down to Battery Park and more,
John the Baptist bore
His holy folio into that town.
His lion's eyes that shone
With deep Judean eminence were less
Than certain in that place,
And his tawny face was lit
Wondrously with doubt. Am I, in truth, too late?
He said, watching the gulls and the towers,
The streets and the ominous signs on the shores.
A brilliant wilderness, he thought,
Turning for photographs his large sad eyes,
Pronouncing for the press
His sacerdotal words upon the deck,
When, scissored at his back,
Some dexterous fanatic lunged to cut
A relic from his coat,
And a momentary gull
Submerged its eyes into the sea to' pull
A dripping morsel from the deep. 0. John,
Those warning angels in the morning sun!
All this was several years ago.
You've had it in the print how Herod
Immortally errored.
And that dark dancer from the Paradise Roof,
How she accounted life
No more than lustful acclamation. O,
It was grief to see him go
Unchampioned. For when
His prophet's head, lolling and dead, had been
On some commercial platter deftly placed.
What vistas and what news were sacrificed!
Yet still the visionaries trip
Through golden gates and up the dark east rivers.
Sweet simpletons, they never
Know what heresies parade our sun's
Unscrupulous pavilions.
Within their monumental hearts they keep
The naivete of sheep,
Welcoming, shput to see
Musicians moving and the kingly play.
And when the fatal girls come dancing out
Their ardor is most ruinously bought.
-John Malcolm Brianti

Now his body was hot all over, his
i feet, his hands, his forehead all hot
and and sweating. He felt like screaming.
Bob," like swearing, but he said nothing.
, it's Jesus, couldn't your only friend listen to,
you when you're dying? This fading
voice in the wilderness. Could no one
hear it?
He was vaguely conscious of Bob
getting up, of the clink of spoon on
glass, and water running.
Bob was standing beside the bed. He.
was holding a glass of water, bubbling
"Here, you goddam hypochondriac.
Take this soda and go to sleep. I've go,-
work to finish, and I don't want to be
bothered by any lousy acting. Drink it
and shut up."
When you know it's the last hour,
maybe even the last minute, you feel
like doing anything. You feel like
screaming- swearing kicking crying wet-
ting your bed and screaming screaming
all at once.
He took the glass and smashed it on
the floor. He closed his eyes and gripped
his knees and shook his whole body
violently . . .
by Archibald MacJeffers,
well-known poet.
(Special to the
Brilliant youth dies world should be
DIE was so young so very-young
lived in unheated room on 5th St.
stricken at his desk died in bed THE.
genius lost wasted dead
Then suddenly, almost before he
could sense it, he was quiet for the first
time that night. His feet were cooling,
his hands were cooling, and the sweat
was gone. He was sliding now, softly,
swiftly, beautifully. His breath wasp
gentle, and he could feel his body loosen;
and the pain fade,
he could feel everything fade, softly,
swiftly, beautifully.
What did Keats say? Quick, what
did Keats Villon Homer Heine Pushkin
Shelley say?
sure there's Indians in them moun-
His knees straightened out a little,
and then he lay very still . . .
He had heard it was a hell of a lot
cheaper to California by bus, and re-
membering last winter across Ohio he
decided first thing in the morning to go
to the Greyhound agency after lunch.
rados And he mustn't forget to send Bert a
letter, special delivery airmail. Make it'
ufler short, make it funny: Bertie dearie,
Ze dye eez cahst. I em cohmeenk ...
yours. until Sam Goldwyn goes back tO.
his pushcart etc. etc. etc.
igler For the first time since he had come
to Fifth Street he found himself sing-'
reen ing as he brushed-out his hair, the long
wavy hair that hung over his delicately-
carved forehead.

corn and cotton ever since the first
Joad cleared the land of brush and In-
dians. But returning, Tom, who has
received no letters during his absence,
is amazed to find the fences gone, cotton
growing in the door-yard, the buildings
deserted and the house itself knocked
part way off its foundations.
The neighbors, too, are gone, except
for a recalcitrant character named
"Muley" Graves. From him, Tom hears
the story. Dust storms and debt and
the one-crop farming enforced by the
profit-hungry banks and land companies
had, of course, long been impoverishing
the whole Dust-bowl area. The Joads
had mortgaged their land and lost tit*
to the big owners years before. But the
big owners were bigger now, farther
away from the men who worked the
fields. It was time for new methods of
farming, ruthlessly efficient - cash
money was wanted before the exhausted
land gave out altogether.
So giant tractors appear upon the
land, plowing mile-long furrows straight
across the country. In confidence, one
of the drivers tells a friend: "I got orders
wherever there's a family not moved on
-if I have an accident, you know, get
too close and cave the house in a little
-well, I might get a couple of dollars.
And my youngest kid never had no
shoes yet."
A hundred thousand dust-bowl fami-,
lies suffer the fate of the Joads. Through
their blank bewilderment and despair,
a sudden hope gleams. Handbills ma-
terialize in the stricken states promising
an abundance of work in California
harvest fields and orchards. These people
want to win security independently as
they always have, want to work and live
and be respected, maybe get a piece of
land with their savings. They hurry to
sell their stock and belongings, buy
jalopies of varyingly ancient vintage,
and start West with little but gas money
to "go on," and little but hope for
breakfast. The pilgrimage begins.
What tragedy awaits them in Calia
fornia can only be learned from the
book itself. They have been self-respect-
ing farmers, inheritors of a rich and
distinctive culture; now they are "Okies,"
scum, vagrants. Feared and hated by
the smug property-owners tof the wes-
tern towns, driven and harried by the
deputy sheriffs who serve the owners'
interests, they are forced to work at
starvation wages for the agricultural
trusts whenever there is work.
This is the bare theme of the book:
the wrath that gathers in the wake of
gradual disillusionment, as their blind
hurt and anger gradually finds its
proper object. Step by bitter step, the
migrants find their way to unity and
militant resistance.I
It is a great theme-for a novel, or
for a serious piece of exposition like
MacLeish's Land of the Free. But Stein-
beck is an artist, and is first of all con-
cerned with people, with the organic tex-
ture of experience. From the first page
it is evident that he wants his characters
to be more than the type of Southern
tenant farmers. They are to be in many
ways symbolic of the American work-
ing classes, of the American nation. He,
must therefore get at fundamentally
human qualities of the people he deals
with, as well as describing externals of
their lives that are common to all sec-
tions of the country, in their total im-
pression at least.
First, this required exact knowledge.
Steinbeck knows all about farming, and
used cars, and highways, and peach
orchards and monopoly agriculture and
the fascist vigilante organizations of
the West. He has an ear for the popular
speech, an eye for- the ordered ritual of
everyday life, a zest for the distinct and
lusty personality which every member
of the Joad family displays. More im-
portant, by far, he disloses the endur-
ance, the latent humor,, and the limit-

less courage with which the common
people have in every age and time met
the hard ordeal of their existence.
These traits demand great sensitivity
in the portrayer, if an idealized picture
is not to be given, and Steinbeck in-
dubitably possesses it.
There, are faults, of course. The end.,
should. have come two chapters sooner,.

at least. The movenent of the book
slows down and falters a little when
the family reaches California. Yet the
structure, in general, is of such firm-
ness that it might be envied by any
living American writer. This is largely
for two reasons. First, the successful
device of antiphonal chapters which
give short prose sketches of the, chang-
ing general background of the story,
and second, the way in which the deci-
sive steps in its action are mirrored in
the development and disintegration of
the characters.
What I like best, however, in the book,
is the supremely natural and "organic"
genesis and the steady development of
Tom Joad's concluding decision to lead
his fellow workers to organize and fight.
It is possible for any generous man to
write about waste and injustice without
burning indighation. A worn-out revolu-
tionary phrase may sum up a slovenlys
writer's ambition to add point to a
meagre tale's final chapter. But the
message of militant solidarity which
is implicit in The Grapes of Wrath rings
true because it proceeds from a sector
of current and specific experience truly
and completely seen.

The result here has been a diary, writ-
ten by Isherwood, some poems, a son-
net sequence and a verse commentary
by Auden. Lightly, economically, Isher-
wood brushes the first layer of dust from
China and sees the war not for its news
value, nor China as an ant iropologist,
but both as a lukewarm leftist tourist
anxious to look things over. At his
best, through a medium of worry about
shoes, food, sleep and bad wines, Isher-
wood uncovers many universals that
are not exactly the broad abstract prim
ciples of freedom, but the definite physi-
cal hardship demands that make free-
dom a necessity--bad hospitals, bad
food, good morale in the Chinese army,
the personal attitude of the foreign
business men in Shaiighai. At his
worst, Isherwood is merely a bad tem-
pered Dickie Halliburton.
Auden enters without apology, with
poetry written en route in China, some
at the front, some in sight of the modern
buildings of Shanghai which stand fa-
cade-like before the sodden Chinese city.
I have been told that these poems mark
a new phase in Auden's work. Certainly
the flippancy and lightness of the poet
making a charade is not here. The
sonnets are not all better for this ap-

For my teachers
Catharsis builds across the dreadful air
From rostrum to the door. Pity and fear
Swell with adrenalin of imagination
Into the blood. Almost, the hesitation
Breaks in heroic furies. Almost freed,
Passion recoils across the thing unsaid.
Heroics are anyway incongruous
With conservative tweeds. Togas are .far more imperious,
And the homeward trolley inevitably disenchanting.
But tell us, because the fear is haunting
That if we err we are lost. Tell us because
We hung upon your words-when was it?-once
Before the day was split by the broken faces
And eyes that burned holes through the classic theses.
Tell us by what loophole the characters
Of the mob scene are permitted access
To the stage. Construct for us the philosophy
Of the supernumerary. By what mercy
They have the wings to stare from while the sun
Is turned-exclusive spotlight-on the high tragedian.


It's better
Ruffle the
And once
ward a
To all it suf
Clear from
Rally the :
the wil
Gather the:
the ea
Till they
The contr:
the sh
Of which
All' other
S. Eio
Co., 11
It is well
any work o
ing some h
tion. Whet]
us of thes
he has bee
body of En
still remai
the still-g
tain that
few Eliot A
so much t
new work
earlie rwo
spiritual re
the work
though it
past, those
spiritual a
new work a
poetic thee
own person
two approa
to evaluatic
at least, b
work The I
It is certai
to the mod
no one else
be consider
ment gr do
a reinspect:
work? This
Eliot, of c
but no oth
For the b
Reunion El
us that par
with in The
it with thi
drama its a
than is don
only a sin
The play o
the Monche
of the bir
mother of 1
is assemble
after eight
chensey to
of the hous
that his wi
suicide ,was
is the mur
for the firs
have pursue
does not fii
he had exp
what Eliot
play, that e
release four
fate to its b

that fate pt
follow the
may lead. E
desire to se
above thesp
her husbandj
after he lea
is the really
Upon this s
Eliot has hu.


H. Auden and Christopher
Isherwood; Faber and Faber,
Auden and Isherwood left England
in January, 1938, returned in July, 1938,
published in December, 1938. "This was
our first journey to any place east. of
Suez," they say in a foreword. "We spoke
no Chinese, and possessed no special
knowledge of' Far Eastern affairs. It is
hardly necessary, therefore, to point
out that we cannot vouch for the ac-
curacy of many statements made in this
book. Some of our informants may
have been unreliable, some merely po-
lite, some deliberately pulling our leg.
We can only record, for the benefit of
the reader who has never been to China,
some impression of what he would be
likely to see, and of what kind of stories
he would be likely to hear."
Many have said since this book has
appeared that Auden and Isherwood
have evaded assuming the sourpuss
high-seriousness socharacteristic and
seemingly so necessary to the leftists
poets. But war and war for freedom
slips into the spare, unupholstered
pigeonhole marked sublimity much too
easily. And too many poets, philosoph-
ers, travellers, missionaries, etc., have
stood in awe of the' east for too long a
time for two young men to spend a
month travelling through China with
a meager knowledge of'anything there
and come out with a profound tome
upon the emergence from the gun-fire
of a'refreshed culture' and refulgent

pearance of seriousness, but each is a
definite attempt to make a clear state-
ment of a principle, the poetic framing
of a modern freedom. Much is flat and
without value, speaking of haste in the
production of the book, but what comes
off is memorable. Here is the best of
the sonnets, written to an unknown
Far from the heart of culture he was
Abandoned by his general and his lice,
Under the padded quilt he closed his eyes
And vanished. He will not be introduced
When this campaign is tidied into books:
No vital knowledge perished in his skull;
His jokes were stale; like wartime, he
was dull;
His name is lost forever like his looks.
He neither knew nor chose the Good,
but taught us,
And added meaning like a comma, when
He turned to dust in China that our
Be fit to love the. earth, and not again
Disgraced before the dogs; that, where
are waters,
Mountains and houses, may be also men.
But better still is his verse commen-
tary where he sends the radio voices of
first the Nazi speaker, then the Com-
munist on his secret radio station in
argument, then finally:
mingling with the distant mutter
of guerrilla fighting,'
The voice of Man: '0 teach me to out-
grow my madness: -
It's better to be sane than mad, or liked
than dreaded;
It's better to sit down to nice- meals
.than to hasty;


Co-Editors ...................................James Allen, Harvey Sw
Fiction Editor............................................Hervie Hat
Henry R. Clauser, Jeanne Foster, Seymour S. Horowitz, Una Kelley
Penelope Pearl, Frances Pyle, Harry Purdy, Houston Brice
Essay Editor .................. ................ . .......David Spen
J. Paul Smith, William Hynes, Virginia Finkleston
Poetry Editor .................... .... . .................James G
Nelson Bently, Joseph Gornbein, Eleanor McCoy, David Stocking,
Malcolm Long, Harwood Smith

Review Editor.............................................. John Brinnin
Elliott Maraniss, Ethel Norberg, Stanley Lebergott
Publication Manager......... ... ... ..............Seymour S. Pardell
Advisory Board .......................Arno L. Bader, Giovanni Giovannini,.
James H. Robertson, Wallace kBacon, Herbert Weisinger; Johnla Stiles

(From these little points of. break
lives turn, earths form; the- dead'
star takes fire. Ah,
the crises of Youth!),

of foolishness, pay-

4'. *4* * 4

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