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2005年NPR美国国家公共电台四月-A Tennessee Williams Poem - Lost No

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It was just about a year ago that Washington University professor Henry Schvey was visiting New Orleans to deliver a paper on one of his favorite topics, Tennessee Williams. During a side visit to Faulkner House Books. He found a small blue test booklet that was used by Williams in 1937 for a Greek exam he took while he was a student at Washington University in St. Louis. And in that test booklet, an unpublished poem by the famous writer. Washington University in St. Louis announced the news today and joining us now is Henry Schvey. Thank you very much for being with us.

Thank you very much for having me.

Well,tell us little a bit about that find. When did you realize that you had dug gold in you hand there?

Well,it's still rather hard to imagine, but I went into the bookstore which specializes in a hell of lot of signed editions of Williams' books. And I've been in the bookshop before and looked through most of the editions. And then I ask the owner J. if he had anything else, any ephemera ,any paper, or works of Williams. And he produced a fairly substantial file of photographs and some old programs and some things that were signed and some not signed. And then in a plastic, clear plastic envelope, I saw it and I knew immediately what it was. It had the name of the university, it had "Th.Williams" at the top. And I opened it and I realized it was of course a blue booklet, though, the blue books looked exactly the same today. And I realized that it was his Greek exam. And I knew that this was of significance simply because I had studied Williams. I just directed the premiere of this play that he had written at the same time in 1937 called "Me, Vashya" which was the reason he left Washington University. He was very unhappy with their exception of this play. But the crowning blow, as it were, was failing in this examination.

And in this blue booklet, he's supposed to writing down the answers to his Greek exams, he wrote a poem?

Well, what happened is, I thumbed through the examination itself and the different aspects of the exam were marked D minus, C plus, etc.

Ouch.

Yeah. As well,he knew. In his diary he said "Tomorrow Greek final which I will undoubtedly1 flunk2." This was what he knew was coming. But as… then I kept touring the pages for some reason. Er, the rest of the pages were blank, and then near the end was this poem. Written in the same pencil as the exam and with a title erased3, the original title was called "Sad Song", and it was erased. But clearly visible beneath erasure4. And on top of it was written the new title, "Blue Song". And I read the poem and it was absolutely, I mean, it just being punched in the stomach. It’s a very powerful little work. It’s only 17 lines long. Very powerful. And it describes Williams’despair at that moment. He was clearly flunking5 out of school. He had received no commendation in this playwriting festival competition which he was really hoping for. The winning playwright6 was to receive a prize of 50 dollars, which may not sound like very much today. But when you think that tuition in those days was 150 dollars and he was relying upon his grandparents to pay that tuition. A 50-dollar prize was quite a significant amount of money.

So this was the depth of the depression.
Can you read us a bit of this poem?

I'd be happy to. I have it here. I'll just read you first lines or so.

"Blue Song.
I am tired.
I am tired of speech and of action.
If you should meet me upon a street,
do not question me,
for I can tell you only my name
and the name of the town I was born in."

That's the way that the poem begins. And it's, this idea of "I am tired of speech and of action" is a kind of refrain running through the poem. And it describes a feeling of absolute despair, I think.

So they said this is more than juvenilia.

Well, I think it is. We have to remember that Tennessee Williams was twenty-five years old although he was still an undergraduate at this time. And a lot of his so-called juvenilia are of tremendous importance, and quite outstanding as literary work. Williams wrote poems, at this point in his life, he probably considered himself a poet rather than a playwright. And he's, he worked out his ideas in short story form and in poems. And they formed the gems7 of what were to become his major plays. So I would say that it is more than juvenilia, yes.

And is this poem, I understand there are still some illegal complications, but when those are cleaned up, is this gonna be published?

I certainly should hope so .I think it's of significance. And I think the scholars would like to see it. And it also elucidates8 the role of St. Louis in his upbringing. We associate Tennessee Williams, of course, with New Orleans for a very good reason. But he was constantly reacting against St. Louis as an obstacale, as something to fight through. And I think that this poem indicates that fact that he really felt out of, he felt as though he didn't have a name. There is one of the lines in the poem suggests that he doesn't have a name, he doesn't have an identity. And clearly it's interesting that within a year and a half, when he goes to New Orleans, he does change his name to Tennessee from Tom. So I think that the poem really fits right into this aspect of sense of sadness of loss of self, at the same time trying to fight through it, which we associate with Tennessee Williams.

Still amazing that a blue book with such dreadful grades in it would have survived all of these years. Henry Schvey, (It is amazing.) thanks very much for it.

My very great pleasure.

Henry Schvey, our congratulations. He's the chair of Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis. This is Talk of the Nation from NPR news. I'm Neal Conan.

点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 undoubtedly Mfjz6l     
adv.确实地,无疑地
参考例句:
  • It is undoubtedly she who has said that.这话明明是她说的。
  • He is undoubtedly the pride of China.毫无疑问他是中国的骄傲。
2 flunk uzFy3     
v.(考试)不及格(=fail)
参考例句:
  • I will flunk him if my student doesn't learn the material in the course.如果我的学生没有掌握课程的内容,我就会让他不及格。
  • If you flunk finals,you don't get the chance to do them again.如果你没通过期末考试,就没有机会再考一次了。
3 erased f4adee3fff79c6ddad5b2e45f730006a     
v.擦掉( erase的过去式和过去分词 );抹去;清除
参考例句:
  • He erased the wrong answer and wrote in the right one. 他擦去了错误答案,写上了正确答案。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • He removed the dogmatism from politics; he erased the party line. 他根除了政治中的教条主义,消除了政党界限。 来自《简明英汉词典》
4 erasure 5oSxN     
n.擦掉,删去;删掉的词;消音;抹音
参考例句:
  • The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth. 过去给人擦拭个干净,擦拭的行为又忘了个干净,于是,谎言就变成了真理。 来自英汉文学
  • The inspection, modification, replacement or erasure of part of file's contents. 检查、修改、代替或擦去文档内容一部分的过程。 来自互联网
5 flunking 282ab56e0360ca34a79de117d9603303     
v.( flunk的现在分词 );(使)(考试、某学科的成绩等)不及格;评定(某人)不及格;(因不及格而) 退学
参考例句:
  • Is there some school of the ear I'm flunking out off right now? 我是不是被什么听力学校淘汰了? 来自电影对白
  • Twelve freshman footballers were flunking classes and had to leave. 当时有12名高中一年级的美式足球(即橄榄球)队员没有通过考试而不得不离开。 来自互联网
6 playwright 8Ouxo     
n.剧作家,编写剧本的人
参考例句:
  • Gwyn Thomas was a famous playwright.格温·托马斯是著名的剧作家。
  • The playwright was slaughtered by the press.这位剧作家受到新闻界的无情批判。
7 gems 74ab5c34f71372016f1770a5a0bf4419     
growth; economy; management; and customer satisfaction 增长
参考例句:
  • a crown studded with gems 镶有宝石的皇冠
  • The apt citations and poetic gems have adorned his speeches. 贴切的引语和珠玑般的诗句为他的演说词增添文采。
8 elucidates 40206386092f3c846952e2a91cce63ce     
v.阐明,解释( elucidate的第三人称单数 )
参考例句:
  • Part Two: This section elucidates the connotation operative ability in geography. 第二部分,阐述了地理实践能力内涵。 来自互联网
  • This review mostly elucidates advances in medication of primary osteoporosis. 在此主要介绍原发性骨质疏松症的药物治疗进展。 来自互联网
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TAG标签:   npr  公共电台  tennessee  williams  po
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