The Care and Prevention of Playwrights
By Walter Kerr
• Page 3
Rest Camp, a story
By Claude F. Koch
• Page 6
The Two Faces of Fiction
By John F. McGlynn
• Page 13
Brief Candle, a poem
By Claude F. Koch
• Page 17
By Leo Brady
• Page 18
The Sign, a story
By Edward Garry
To Death, a poem
By Brother Adelbert
Is There a Doctor in the House?
• Page 20
• Page 28
By Dan Rodden
• Page 29
november f ifteenth.
vol. I9 no. 1 •
The AREA OF LITERATURE of La Salle College announces . . .
a literary magazine published quarterly during the academic year,
• aimed at focusing the practice and appreciation of
writing in the Catholic tradition . . .
• aimed more particularly at fixing a channel of
expression for Faculty, Alumni, and Students of La
Salle College, the Brothers of the Christian Schools,
and selected outside contributors . . .
The Editors accordingly offer the pages of FOUR QUARTERS as a common
ground for the creative, critical, or scholarly writer and the alert and reflective
reader. They promise that each manuscript submitted will receive careful con-
sideration, and, realizing that creative growth is dependent on sustained
interest, they welcome the attention and comments of their subscribers.
EDITOR— Austin J. App
ASSOCIATE EDITOR— Brother E. Patrick, F.S.C.
MANAGING EDITOR— Daniel J. Rodden
BUSINESS MANAGER— Brother G. Robert. F.S.C.
CIRCULATION MANAGER— Joseph A. Browne. Jr.
EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES— Claude F. Koch. Chairman
Brother E. Clementian. F.S.C. Howard L. Hannum
Robert L. Dean Joseph F. Hosey
Ugo Donini John F. McGlynn
John A. Guischard E. Russell Naughton
Manuscripts and other correspondence should be addressed to The Editor, FOUR
QUARTERS, La Salle College, Philadelphia 41, Pa. Manuscripts should be typed double-
spaced and should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
WALTER KERR, for a number of years a member of tbe drama
faculty of the CatKoIic University of America, wKere bis classes in play-
writing and drama theory became well known, is presently guest drama
critic of the l^ejv York Herald-Trihune, drama editor of Commonweal,
and a contributing editor of Theatre Arts Monthly. As a playwright, he
has frequently been represented on Broadw^ay, most recently by the success-
ful musical revue Touch and Go, written in collaboration with his wife.
Jean Kerr. Mr. Kerr is represented in this first issue of FOUR QUARTERS
by the provocative article, "The Care and Prevention of Playwrights."
LEO BI^ADY, whose verse appears in this issue, is at present Assistant
Professor of Speech and Drama at the Cathohc University of America.
A frequent contributor to poetry magazines, Mr. Brady is the author of a
novel. The Edge of Doom, and of several plays, one of which. Count Me In,
written in collaboration with Walter Kerr, w^as produced professionally.
JOSEPH MINTZER, who contributed the typographic cover design
for this and the year's subsequent issues of FOUR QUARTERS, is a
member of the Art Directors of America, the Scarab Club of Detroit,
former president of the Ecclesiastical Art Guild of Detroit, and has
exhibited his paintings under the auspices of the Michigan Water Color
BROTHER ADELBERT is a former Assistant Professor of English
at La Salle College. At present he is studying for his doctorate in
Medieval Literature at the Catholic University of America.
CLAUDE F. KOCH, JOHN F. McGLYNN, EDWARD GARRY,
and DAN RODDEN are members of the faculty of La Salle College.
The Care and Prevention
By Walter Kerr
THOSE or us wKo teacK playwriting sometimes wonder why one of
our young student playwrigKts may spend tKree or four years with us
in the universities without producing anything w^e can honestly consider
stageworthy, and then go out into the wide, uncuhivated world and within
a year turn out a mature and even commercial work. We were so well
equipped to help him, we had all those courses, we gave him so much
of our precious personal time, and we offered him an intellectual environ-
ment in which a man should have been able to grow. The year after
leaving us he spent mostly in bars and on beaches. To our chagrin, the
bars and the beaches produced the work of art.
Chagrined but unbowed, we are still determined to help him. and
we try to entice him back to our own, and superior, environment. Lately
the universities have been offering residences to young playwrights. Come
back, we say. Come out of the potholes and into the light, and let us help
you write better plays. The chances are about a thousand to one, if the
playwright does come back, that he will again embarrass us by producing
the unproduceable. And the longer he stays, the worse he will get.
I am not suggesting that we cannot be of use to the beginning writer;
we can, and we have been. But there are certain limitations to our use-
fulness, and I think it is wise to face them. It is also necessary to make
the playwright face them, so that he does not suffer at the hands of men
honestly trying to help, and so that he does not paralyze himself with
misapprehensions about his trade.
The fundamental virtue of the university as an aid to playwrights
is that it is a repository of historical and technical knowledge about the
craft and that, as a result of years of study and synthesis, it can offer a
quick resume of traditional structural principle. The neophyte had best
be exposed to all this. It will save him time.
The fundamental vice of the university as a home for playwrights is
that it is an essentially rational environment, devoted to logic, theory,
and the study of principle. The playwright's gift, like that of other artists,
is not primarily rational, but intuitive. This means, roughly, that he has
an instinctive capacity for sudden and direct contact with realityz—flashes
of insight which are not the result of rational construction in a vacuum, but
come from immediate intimacy with nature itself. NVhat he receives are
concrete images, not abstractions or equations, and universities are
notorious hotbeds of abstraction and equation.
There is a certain estrangement, and perhaps even a clash, between
the rational and intuitive methods of the intellect. F. S. C. Northrop
4 Four Quarters
empKasizes this in The Meeting of East and ^Vest wken he points out that
the rationally arrived-at knowledge of the wave-IengtK for blue will do
nothing at all to convey to a man born blind the actual experience of
blueness. Now the playwright is concerned with blueness— for him, blue-
ness means the living reality of an action— and all the abstract equations
he learns for climax, crisis, direct and indirect characterization will not
convey to him or to his audience this living reality. The danger he faces
in a university, where the search for equations is after all the principal
business, is that he will be drawn into the fascination of the formula.
He may come to believe that the equation is the living reality or a perfectly
good substitute for it. Writing hard, he will produce plays as lifeless as
they are mathematically irreproachable. Or, sensing his own failure, he
will turn into what he is now really equipped to be^-a critic.
I suppose all of this sounds a little intangible and overwrought. But
those of us who teach playwriting have had it happen repeatedly to us,
or to our students, in one way or another. We may have told them,
perhaps in a course in drama theory or history, that tragedy is our most
profound dramatic form, and that all or virtually all of our great tragedies
are in verse. What we said was demonstrably true. But it did not
justify the rash of verse tragedies which broke out in playwriting class
some short time later. Young writers are an ambitious and elevated lot.
Give them a principle about tragedy or about anything else, and they
are going to attack their work as though the principle came first. The
chance that any one of these plays was inspired by an immediate and
tragic intuition of life is, I think, rare. And unless we really do point out
that a perfectly sound critical principle is no guide whatever to the
personal talent of an individual man, we may condemn that man to five or
six years of laboriously perfecting a form for which he has no perceptive
Or there is my own experience of guiding a student through a series of
exercises which were calculated to teach her a good deal about play
structure. She seemed to learn the structure all right, but to be without
any particular talent. One day when my back was turned, and my glaring
formal eye not directed toward her, she forgot about the whole thing and
wrote a play. It was so good I had to produce it immediately in the
university theatre; it w^as later optioned for New York. She is still profuse
about how^ much she learned from me. but I learned more from her. I
learned that I could teach a lot of principle but that a genuine playwright
is a terribly unprincipled person.
Again, a young man comes to us seeking admission, w^ith a dozen
assorted manuscripts under his arm. Here, obviously, is a very fertile
fellow. At the end of a year with us, w^e find he has not even put pencil
to paper. Is it possible that we have somehow paralyzed him? On several
such occasions I have asked the student for an explanation and I have
several times been answered as follows: "Oh, I couldn't possibly have
wasted my time writing anything. Every lecture you gave taught me so
The Care and Prevention of Playwrights 5
mucn that I didn't want to be making mistakes on paper that might be
prevented by the very next lecture." Students have been known to go
on for years this way. I thought for awhile of remodehng my classroom
to include ear-plugs and a bar.
It is not just a matter of wasting time in the classroom, or even of
paralyzing a given student for a few^ years thereafter. Carried to its full
extension, the emphasis on theory and principle can destroy the output of
an entire culture. Something hke this happened in Renaissance Italy.
Clearly, there was a fine dramatic and theatrical instinct here, bursting
to be heard. It made itself heard with tremendous vitality in the com-
meaia dellarte. But the more talented and literate men who might have
given Italy a literary comedy or even a tragic form were caught in the
throes of classic theory. Slavishly they adhered to the rules of the academi-
cians, and in the process went creatively sterile. Holding themselves
superior to the commedia, with its formless and vulgar aping of the
common life, they destroyed their intuitive gifts by their determined
Obviously we have got to teach what we know about theory and
mathematical technique. But we have got to teach it for what it is'—a kit
of small tools, an assembly of shortcuts—and never pretend that it is the
heart of the w^ork. The student should know that what he is learning will
serve as a sort of handy reference guide, once he has absorbed and then
forgotten it. Since no intuitively perceived image will ever come w^ith all
its shoelaces perfectly tied, it is wise to know how^ to tie them up. But
there should be no undue emphasis on the act of tying. It should be "a
casual habit w^hich distracts not at all from the pursuit of the image
proper. We must encourage the student to form such habits quickly and
never again give them thought, so that his mind may be free to make
contact with an unmanipulated reality.
The trouble with his remaining in a university after the habits have
been formed is that he continues to give thought to the processes. He
thinks, talks, and theorizes process far into the night. Even if he is
advanced to the point of recognizing the difference between process and
perception, he thinks, talks, and theorizes about that. It is a world of
theory, in which one first establishes the formula and then attempts to
fill it. For the artist this is putting the cart before the horse and, like all
horses caught in the situation, he is brought to a standstill. The case
of John Lyly is much to the point: the University Wits, of which he was
one, became wits when they left the universities for the life of London.
Lyly, clinging to an intellectual environment and disdaining to compete
with the bear-baiting pits, chained himself to an everlasting repetition of
his first intellectual conceits. Better the bars and the beaches.
Our job in the universities is to teach the traditional short-cuts and
to turn them into half-forgotten habits. To make clear to the writer
that they are not half so important as his own most casual glance. And
to get rid of him as quickly as possible.
By Qaude F. Koch
REST CAMP is tKe winner of tKe first annual Catholic Press Association SHort Story
Award. Tlie story, which appears for the first time in FOUR QUARTERS, was
adjudged test by a board composed of editors of leading Cathofic pubhcations.
KIPPER'S going asKore in
an Kour, Rubber."
Over by tKe rail the clumpy
little figure started, turned!, and split
unshaven cheeks in an indecisive
"That'll be great, eh. Commander,
eh?" On his damp collar, cross and
heutenant's bars were dull and awry.
The heutenant commander nodded
condescendingly and waved himself
away, and the priest leaned his belly
against the rail again, contemplating
with dull-eyed fatigue the unloading
operations in the Noumean dusk.
His khaki clothes draped hmply over
the framie that awkwardly slouched,
bereft of the weight that earned him
his nickname— a pale, grimy, fever-
ridden httle man small on the trans-
port's forward well-deck.
That earned him his nickname.
The Reverend Wilham Ball, Roman
Cathohc chaplain to the 501st Con-
struction Battahon, rubbed soft,
padded fingers over his cracked hps.
On the wharf below, behind which
ghnted the dissembhng sun in its
setting across the red tin roofs of the
palm-sheltered town, pugnacious
green trucks of a Marine convoy
were already loading the advance
party of the Sea Bee Battalion.— his
battalion, his disdainful flock. . . .
And later, the drinkin' padre, old
Rubber Ball himself, hail fellow, the
good guy among his peers would
step down to the commander's jeep
and another round of drinks at this
damn rest camp wherever-it-was
But the Solomon Islands were be-
hind. Father Ball looked down at
his slight fingers clutching white the
ship's rail and expelled his breath
with a grating sigh. The quonset
hut was behind, the screened mess
("officers only"), the beer (out be-
yond the screening in the Tulagi
twilight bent and dejected figures of
elderly men clanked messgear in the
long lines^-some looked in and saw
him, and saw the skipper, and the
tables, and the icebox), and now the
rest camp in this New Caledonian
security. The advance party was
loaded, angular figures of men joy-
ous on the planked seats lining the
sides of the six-bys^aughing, and
boisterous joking. . . . Then one
looked up at him and ceased his good
humor, or so the priest thought.
Father Ball turned away from the
rail, and padded his awkward knock-
kneed waddle toward his cabin in
It was dark as the jeep followed
the main convoy through the town,
but the priest in his seat behind the
commander and beside his exec
shivered at the piercing whiteness of
headlights. Light for the first time
at night for six months. Light that
cut across the paving as the trucks
mounted to the hills and thrust still
glowing Kouses into relief. They
were silent as tKe hushed witness
of conventional hfe took shape in
the headhghts, as the faint music of
lavender or stranger scents hung in
the coohng air. Like the httle towns
in the late springs at home. Like,
thought Father Ball, the road to my
first curacy. The same lonehness
and uncertainty and weakness that
filled him then assailed him again,
and he said:
"Well, Skipper, civihzation at
"Right-o, Padre. Here's where
you fill out again. They say," the
Commander turned around with a
grin, "they say that the god-damned-
est officers' club in the Pacific is
right here at the Hotel du Paci-
"Lead me to it, " the exec yipped
his shrill delight.
Father Ball nodded absently.
It was a strange returning, he
thought. Six months baked in green,
or scraping sodden cots in total
blackness: every sound familiar,
weighted and understood. Now^ to
learn to hear again the isolated, half-
recalled, and fearless sounds of a
community; to see after green-blind-
ness the wealth of a spectrum^
freed of the tyranny of green. Freed
of all familiars, except the self, he
thought. The little-fat-man-priest-
in-his-spare-time. lover of Number
One. An abrupt curve, arrowing the
headlights out across angular nae-
ouli trees, sliding along wire mesh
fencing and plowing shadows across
the tilled earth, threw him against
"Hold it. Rubber! " The priest
shrank at the nickname. He was
"But are the French lasses
friendly? " Ball could not see his
commanding officer's teeth^-but they
would be unveiled fully in the dusk,
caught in a moment by the clean
light approaching upgrade.
' Now^, here, here," he bantered,
"remember your chaplain ..." A
bark of laughter, and the little priest
nodded his head with a weak smile
in the darkness. It was so easy.
But to begin again maybe here.
Or fifteen minutes ago with the
convoy ana the singing men blast-
ing through the gate of the long,
deserted wharf ^twisting the streets
of the tojjun fragrant u^ith memories
aching to bum away the months just
past, swinging the twisted palms and
the relaxed streets, and swinging the
jeep like the tail of a long dog be-
hind. To begin again with that be-
ginning-^but pxst to find the moment
of decision, and cast away the para-
site of body that when and God
knows how became the host and rode
the spirit out to something infinitely
small and lost. Or to begin now?
"What the hell did you say.
"I said the men sound happy ..."
Father Ball clenched his hands on
his lap and closed his ears to a reply.
And all the hushed ride through
the Noumean night journeyed the
priest further into the past/— beyond
all memories, of his failure as a chap-
lain, along the wide roads above the
lights that emphasized the pall of
valleys below, back to old illusions.
But then they were at Camp Saint
Louis, and while the Skipper tugged
at a case of luke-warm beer and the
priest watcKeJ Kim with desire and
cKagrin. the Marine Captain wKo
was Camp Commander bobbed into
tKe tent and banded bim tbe notice
for bis morning Masses at Camp
"And wbere is Camp Bailey, eb?"
Ball sbpped tbe notice into bis sag-
ging Icbaki sbirt and grabbed eagerly
for tbe tin of beer.
"Across tbe way, Cbaplain. And
watcb yourself," tbe Marine Officer
grinned in tbe candlehgbt, "it's a
Raider camp and one of tbe outfits
is beading Nortb soon; tbey need a
Catbobc cbaplain ..."
"Not for me; not for me." be
bfted tbe can to bis bps witb a
jerky movement and drank avidly,
"I wouldn't go back tbere for tbe
Pope bimself. "
Tbe bell was a pattern in bis
consciousness long before be awak-
ened. Back and fortb, tbe notes
caugbt pure bke vs^ater in a silver
pool, stirring a dream witb ecboes
of tbe seminary lawn created anew
eacb morning for tbe cassocked boys,
tbe ripples widening to drag witbin
tbe dream tbe room wbere once be,
a bttle boy, still sleeps and late for
Mass. . . . But be awakened to tbe
instant morning: outside tbe tent
tbe paper-peeling bark of a naeouli,
and tbe belling across tbe startled
valley. Tbe priest buncbed to bis
feet, clattering a beer can across tbe
tent flooring. No movement in tbe
tw^o remaining bunks. Tbe first
nigbt's party bad done its work.
His wristwatcb blurred to tbe bour,
and be remembered bis Mass at tbe
But wben be bad dressed and
trimmed bis beard, and*— 'clearing tbe
still sleeping camp^returned tbe dis-
interested greeting of a sentry, tbe
bell distracting from some memory
down tbe valley drew bim, sbuffling
and vulnerable, down a trail be-
Tbere was a moment of hesita-
tion at a wide dirt road, untravelled
in tbe early morning; if tbere w^ere
signs, be did not see tbem— -tbe bells
clipped ecboes from bills be could
not see beyond tbe thickened
growths of palm and kauri and wry
naeouli; and so be took tbe wrong
trail, continuing on the road deeper
into the trees dow^n tbe valley.
Then tbey ceased their calling and
be paused, suddenly breathless. Up
and down the trail was tbe silent
morning, and the light held in tbe
moisture of fronds. Wben he moved
again, bewildered, be heard bis foot-
steps and was uneasy. Lifting bis
feet carefully, be tugged at tbe cross
on his collar and searched through
the texture of fronds settled over-
head for tbe sky^-seeking movement
of clouds, of birds.
And wben the bells pealed forth
again^arring, it seemed, from tbe
trees into which he had been star-
ing, he bit his lip and quickened bis
The mission was there suddenly,
unexpectedly at the turn of tbe trail:
a whitewashed mass on a rise, its
spire directing his eyes to tbe laven-
der and green mountains against
which it ordered its whiteness. Then
be knew^ be bad been climbing, for,
looking off to his left, along the
fringe of woodland stretched out-
buildings latticed like cloisters and
irregular patches of farmland slop-
ing to a blue marsb.
Tbe two nuns were so still be bad
not noticed tbem. Tbey were up
to bis rigbt, by a tumbbng stone
wall below tbe cburcb level, tbeir
babits tbe dusty grey of stone. Tbey
stood in repose, facing bim.
He raised bis band and smiled,
and one nodded ber bead so sligbtly
be besitated to advance. Tbe stones,
tumbled to tbeir feet, deepened tbeir
silence to tbe silence of statues in
tbe grottoes of tbe seminary wbere
tbe bells tolled. Here now, tbe bells
were silent, be realized. Tbe sky a
settled blue tbat backed tbe spire;
tbe spire and tbe mission cburcb
arcbing beyond tbe stone wall; tbe
grey wall tbat backed tbe grey nuns
^-and only be stood alone and out
"Sister," be besitated again-— ad-
dressing tbe nun wbo bad nodded
to bim, "Sister, I'm a Catbolic priest,
and I'm afraid I'm lost . . . '
He watcbed tbe nun incline to-
ward ber companion, wbisper, and
tben move witb robes dissolving into
morning toward bim down tbe grade.
Her companion remained still, bands
folded before ber in ber long grey
Tbe nun confronting bim, ber eyes
fixed witb respect on tbe ground at
bis feet— be saw tbe bone structure
sharpened beneatb tbe yellow skin
and thought of the decaying year
and a fragile leaf come to rest.
"I speak English, Father," she
said— and in ber voice he beard tbe
disturbing calm of the bells, "this
is tbe mission of Saint Louis. "
"Tben I have taken tbe wrong
road. Tbe Marine camp— the raider
camp— Bailey— where is it. Sister?'
Behind her tbe other nun took a
faltering step forward.
"I am sorry, I do not know. Father.
I have just arrived myself." The
grey robe fell back from her arm,
and Father Ball looked quickly away
from the limb, severed at the wrist.
"Tbe Cure up there, be will tell
you . . .
The church again on the rise. He
hesitated; to step beyond her was
to enter the intolerable regularity of
tbe circle of sky, mountain, church,
"Father," ber voice was timid.
"You have just come back?"
"The Solomon Islands? It was
most difficult there, was it not?
But to stay was to be involved in
this. Down tbe fragile and delicately
ordered fields, tilled in grey-green
shimmering levels to the marsh, he
saw himself walking, in his mind s
eye, witb honor. Tbe degrading
personal recollections of the islands
were as unreal as the islands them-
selves, here wbere tbe nun's calm
voice was thunder stirring memories.
"Yes, Sister, " who in this timeless
place could contradict? "at times, it
was very difficult." (Out in tbe
Tulagi twilight, again and again tbe
men averted their eyes from tbe
priest in tbe screened enclosure^--
With a quick, shy glance at her
face in its wasted repose, be ges-
tured farewell and entered tbe cita-
del of wall and church and bill. She
moved soundlessly aside and stepped
to the wall, extending tKe ruined ann
to her companion.
The church smelled of springs of
damp, and termites had eaten at
carved statues in the indefinite sha-
dow. Father Ball genuflected to-
v^^ard the vague repository, and with-
drew^. The nuns no longer stood by
the stone wall, the valley and the
marsh drew him, and as he followed
the stone wall downward he felt
relief from that disturbing solitude.
If, he said. 7 say my Mass this
morning, ana resolve^^hecause I've
done no wrong: loneliness is not a
sin, and if 1 was occasionally com-
fortable, 1 needed it more than most
men, who . . . His voice fell suddenly
upon his own ears, and he halted
and looked around at the fields
M^here nobody moved. He was at
the marsh, and as he searched up-
wards again at the white spire, he
saw the grey nuns, immobile, watch-
"Anyhow^," he spolce softly across
the mile of intervening hill to them,
'with God's help I will not go back
there, I'm lost if I go back there, and
here I start again ..."
As though they heard him, the
grey forms pirouetted silently and
drifted in their smallness toward the
chapel, entered, and yielded deeper
silence to him.
"Y'know, Skipper," he told the
commanding officer that evening as
they drove toward the Hotel du Paci-
fique, "I never did find the Raider
camp^wandered around for three
hours on the edge of that marsh,
finally got a hop back to camp^--and
then, eh, discovered that Camp
Bailey was right across the road from
"Padre, Padre— you just didn't
want to go to the trouble of saying
Lanterns bobbed in the slight
breeze sweeping in across He Nou
and the harbour swaying its lighted
shipping in the evening tide. Lan-
terns in the iron-railed enclosure of
the officers' club from which female
voices cut across the heavy chatter
and the roll of the slot machines . . .
and female voices seized the senses
beyond the odor of stale beer . . ,
and the SP's on patrol beside the
gate and the morose enlisted drivers
in the jeeps were unnoticed in the
female voices that usurped the night
beneath the lanterns . . .
"God, women! " said the exec, and
Father Ball trailed them into the
portico beneath the lanterns.
"And female voices," the skipper
was saying, "are enough to make you
forget your sacred office. Padre."
At which Father Ball smiled mecha-
nically and wedged his way to the
"Well, here we start all o—ver
a— gain, hey? " And the exec's sing-
song and loud releasing laughter
rang to the exclusion of all else in
the little priest's mind. His hand
over the damp bar halted halfway
to a glass and closed in an ineffectual
fist. He bowed his head . . . and
the grey forms pirouetted silently and
drifted in their smallness toward . . .
"Yo. Padre! "
The lights burst in the shattering
noise and the Skipper's teeth were
white in the grin that promised ac-
ceptance and enervated dissent.
"Are you just back from tKe is-
TKe sKot was comfortably down,
and he was warm and secure before
he turned to reply. This was a type
he had seen on the posters in
Chaplain's School^— a pursed sensi-
tive mouth, and a thin face poised
w^ith considerate expectation. A lone
silver bar was very straight, impec-
cably balancing the cross.
"Yes, Chaplain," he said. "I'm
Father Ball, with the 501st Sea
"You came in yesterday then. I'm
Slade. Presbyterian chaplain at the
Raider camp across from Saint
"I got lost hunting your camp
yesterday. " Ball waved two whis-
key-straights from the corporal be-
hind the bar.
"I know," Slade laughed defer-
entially. "Say, let's sit down and
talk a while. I haven't been up yet,
you know, and Id like to hear . . .
The priest balanced his drink and
led his youthful confrere through
the thick smoke and the boisterous
crowd, out past the slot machines to
the lanterned patio and an empty
table under the palms.
"How did you know? "
"What? Oh, that you were lost?
I came over after you— I'm the only
chaplain now at Bailey—and I
wanted to be sure you got there for
the Catholic men. I figured you
took the wrong turning— to the Mis-
sion, and the sisters put me straight."
"The sisters? "
"Yes, I must have come up just
behind you. One is blind, you know
—but the other said you had wan-
dered down to the marsh, and that
you were quiet and seemed ill. She
was quite concerned. "
"That was good of her, eh? But
why should she think I was ill? "
The young man shrugged in his
narrow shoulders, and tilted his head
sympathetically: "But you do look
all in, you knov^'. It must have
been pretty tough up there ..."
Ball blinked at him and dropped
his eyes quickly to his drink. The
lanterns danced their wan light
across his soft fingers cupping the
glass; he moved his chunky arm into
that more certain light.
"They're wonderful, those nuns. "
Slade's voice rose enthusiastically.
"They were prisoners of the Japs on
Bougainville, you know— evacuated
by an American sub just a few weeks
ago— and they want desperately to
go back, even the blind one ..."
The priest shrank within himself
and was silent.
"The one lost her arm up there-
she spoke great admiration for you—
you must have suffered, she said."'
Slade reached over and touched
Balls arm, "So I invited them over
to your Masses.— every morning. To
hear you preach on Sunday . . .
"Every day! But they can"t do
"Ah, but they can. Father. You
see, they're just back here to rest too,
and they have quite a lot of free-
"But you say they want to go
back," Father Ball ran his hand nerv-
ously through his hair. "It'll be
v/orse^-much w^orse for everyone, the
second time. It is bad enough the
first . . .A man— anyone— goes to
pieces. Why, you can lose your
SlaJe patted his hand again, "I
know, I know, Fatner. The nun
said it must have been terrible for
"No, no^ don't mean . . . Oh
but you don't understand ..."
Over the chpped sound of glasses
there was a scuffling at the gate, and
when Ball turned back to Slade the
man's eyes, soft and thoughtful, were
fixed on him.
"Why didn't you come with us.
Father? You're right, I don't under-
stand—but you, with your experience
^-and we need a senior chaplain, and
a Catholic ..."
Ball struggled to his feet. "Not
for the Pope himself," he said. "I
need a drink."
And before the shocked eyes of
the younger man, he pushed his
chair clumsily aside and waddled
toward the bar.
Though the bells w^ere a dis-
cordant clang sphtting with a knife
of ice a vast pocket of pain, he did
not waken. The dream recurred end-
lessly, and he watched himself grop-
ing and hopeless to pull his figure
away from before the blurred grey
daubs behind which the fire flared.
Separated from them by the Host
quivering in his hand he saw their
broken faces bow away in a blur,
while mumbled to a trapped con-
clusion in their humihty his Mass
disintegrated to a bitter taste of the
night in his mouth.
See, rather, we come every day,
at the chapel door that shifted and
dissolved the nuns' faces had a ter-
rible brightness of what lost inno-
cence? Chaplain Slade is sending
the jeep . . .
The habit fell from her arm across
the eyes of the falhng face.
The bells silenced. He awakened.
At first he could see nothing.
Grotesque through the opened
tent flap the waiting trees were still.
A guide line flapped emptily its in-
verted question, noose-like across the
slit entrance. At the foot of his cot
the bulk of his holster suggested cer-
The bells dissected his thought.
He sank back, horrified.
On the third day, when the pro-
fanely startled exec jerked aside the
tent flap with Ball's change-of-sta-
tion orders in his hand, he found the
priest on his knees beside his foot-
locker, carefully stowing tins of beer
on the tray.
Under his bunk, T-shirts, dunga-
rees, and shorts lay discarded.
"By God, Rubber," he shook the
papers at Ball. "These are to the
Raider Regiment! Did you ask for
The chaplain nodded, and avoided
"Well, I'll be damned ..."
"No," Father Ball said, "no, you
won't. But I will."
Hidden, down the valley the bells
chimed Angelus, and a beer can
clattered from the priest's fumbling
He stood with difficulty, and
padded to the entrance to the tent,
the indecisive mouth trembling, the
little hands groping tow^ard the dull
canvas that stretched without am-
biguity in the sun.
The Two Faces of Fiction
By John F. McGlynn
IN its gradual emergence as a finisKed literary type tKe novel has been
chiefly nourished by two tendencies which, when fused together, have
produced some of the finest works of the imagination, but which, when
opposed or in separate dominion, have spawned at best the ephemeral
best-seller or the sterile, studied, pampered desideratum of this or that cult
of the avant garde. I am speaking of the tendencies towards naturahsm
and towards "romance," using the latter term in the sense that Hawthorne
apphes it to his own brand of fiction, with more "latitude both as to . . .
fashion and . . . material" than the realistic novel would allow. The
strange truth is that both tendencies apparently spring from the same
desire, which is at once touchstone and method of the art of fiction. Henry
James hit at the heart of the thing when he remarked:
. . . the air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue
of a novel— the merit on which all its other merits . . . helplessly and submissively
depend. If it be not there, they are all as nothing, and if these be there, they owe
their effect to the success with which the author has produced the illusion of life.
And further in the same essay:
Catching the very note and trick, the strange irregular rhytlun of life, that is the
attempt whose strenuous force keeps Fiction upon her feet.
To catch the strange irregular rhythm of life: how^ our naturalist, reading
that, fastens on the word irregular! and how our romancer is impelled by
the word strange! The naturalist will often aim at presenting a broad,
sprawling, people-studded panorama in which the real protagonist is
environment, in which the characters only respond, seldom questioning,
and never opposing with any very positive strength. Steinbeck has one
of his characters in The Grapes of Wraf?i say: "The hell with it! There
ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's
all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and
some ain't so nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say. " This
philosophy of determinism seems to be fundamental in such disparate
works as Nelson Algren's The Man W^if^i the Golden Arm and James
Jones* From Here to Eternity.
It does not require a very sharp eye to locate in the background of
Algren's book the awkward shadow of Studs Lonigan, though Algren
surely gains something over Farrell in his more elegiac mood. Still, it is
the color and clamor and impersonal appetite of the Chicago slum setting
of the novel, rather than the conflict of will and personal appetite of any
of its inhabitants, that determines the action. The lives and dreams of
Frankie Machine and Zosh and Sparrow and Captain Bednar impinge
one on the other with the violent but meaningless importunity of billiard
balls. They are all in effect derelicts, and, while the writer compels from
14 Four Quarters
us a fine sympathy, he never makes their plight tragic, only pathetic. More
objectively deterministic is From Here to Eternity, with its evocation of the
pattern of military hfe, its basic contrast of enhsted men and officers. Like
Algren's novel, but to a greater extent, it rehes on the raw power of shock
treatment and I suppose no valuable criticism of it will come until the
shock wears off.
The romancer differs from the naturahst in that he tries to capture the
overtones of hfe. His field of operations is often small, but he probes more
deeply, trying to communicate hfe's rhythm in the subtle interplay of man's
inner hfe and external environment. Graham Greene's The Heart of the
Matter is this kind of novel, its action always radiating out from, always
returning to, Scobie's conflict. It is a tragic action in that, invested with a
kind of cosmic pity and ignorant of the final saving grace of Grace itself,
Scobie must will self-destruction. He is too strong to be pathetic, as
Frankie Machine is pathetic, trapped in circumstance.
Naturahsm has been the dominant tendency in the fiction of the
present century, even up to the moment, as the reclame attendant on
Prom Here to Eternity makes evident. Certainly among the causes of this
dominance is the impregnation in all sectors of experience of the method
and imphcations of scientific psychology. The Freudian's attack on the
inviolabihty of personahty is reflected in the novehst's distrust of human
dignity and his reluctance to motivate behaviour in any but the most
elementary way. Furthermore, the naturahstic writer tends to repeat the
therapeutic technique of the psychiatrist, wherein the patient is encouraged
to bring willy-nilly to the surface of his mind any and all ideas as they
appear. Still further, the naturahstic novehst echoes the Freudian accent
on sex as the final, infallible skeleton key to behaviour. Granted, sexual
promiscuity is a sign of vitality and hence a means of limning character
outline; but it is a sign of undirected or uncontrolled vitality, and possibly
vitiates more than it reinforces.
And yet, despite the success of Jones and Algren and John Hersey
(of The V^all, not Hiroshima) and Norman Mailer, there seems to be a
powerful movement today away from naturalism, away from the determinism
of morality and personality in which it is grounded. Philip Rahv. in a
remarkably lucid and persuasive essay, characterizes the present debility
WKat was once a means of treating material trutKfulIy nas been turnea, Inrougn a
long process of depreciation, into a mere convention of truthfulness, aevoid of any
significant or even clearly definable literary purpose or design. The spirit of discovery
fias withdrawn from naturahsm; it has now become the common denominator of
reahsm, available in like measure to the producers of literature and to the producers
In a somewhat different spirit. Miss Caroline Gordon finds Hemingway's
compass restricted to "a narrow range of experience " which "in our crisis-
ridden world is inadequate. We can hardly believe any longer in the
The Two Faces of Fiction 13
Divinity of Man. ^Ve are more concerned today with man s relation to
To look into Hemingway's latest novel. Across the River and into the
Trees is to look at the empty husk of a once fine, vigorous talent. The
disillusionment and toughness are here completely synthetic. Reality has
given way to stereotype. People respond to stimuli—and almost exclu-
sively conversational stimuli at that—in a way out of all proportion to the
causes. The colonel swings from gentleness to harshness with the fluidity
and lack of resistance of a stream curving past rocks. The author's purpose
is presumably to communicate purposelessness, to voice the utter meaning-
lessness of human values in our society; the effect is only to divert the
characters themselves into meaninglessness. This is kitsch, if that word
puzzled you'-^kitsch, naked and, alas, unashamed.
Perhaps the most singular evidence of the swing away from naturalism
in our fiction is the wealth of symbolism in many contemporary novels.
In one sense naturalism may be defined by its desire to make language one-
dimensional. It proceeds on the basis that the rhythm of life is best recap-
tured by an attention not to symbols, but to details. Its sacred trinity
of procedure goes this w^ay: a) specificity of detail; b) concentration of
detail; c) density of detail. Its practitioner uses symbols as much as
possible only as the scientist uses them, as static controls for his ideas.
They are nothing more than the most available means of referring to some-
thing else and are thus distinguished from the romancer's use of them as
the very quickening impulse of his art, wherein they take on what one critic
calls "a constantly expanding and reverberating meaning.'
The hero of From Here to Eternity happens to be a supreme bugler.
However, his mastery of this instrument seems to have in the story only
the function of accentuating the central irony, the wasteful, unnecessary
death of the good soldier, sacrificed to the injustice of the army caste
system. One can, of course, impose other meanings; for example, the
contrast of Prewitt's skill with the bugle and with his fists can be made
to symbolize the contrast of beauty and brutality in the world, with the
latter ironically most in demand. But such interpretations seem to be
accidents of form and not basic to the writer's intention. Frankie Machine
of Algren's prize-winning novel is, like Prewitt, a virtuoso. He is a dealer
in a gambling house, a man with a golden arm, and his skill has in general
the same relationship to the narrative pattern as Prewitt's. It is true he is
a more rootless character than Prewitt, so that his end, a miserably bungled
suicide, has more pity than irony attached to it. Not with a bang does he
go out but with "one brief strangled whimpering. "
However, to turn to a novel v^ritten in the other tradition is some-
times to enter a whole world of complicated, interworking symbols. A
singular case in point is James Agee's The Morning Watch, a very brief
novel published early in 1951. The story concerns the efforts of a boy
of twelve to participate in the spirit of Good Friday. Fundamentally it
i6 Four Quarters
is a story of tKe distractions wKich beset Kim, culminating in Kis sneaking
off with several companions to a swimming hole in tKe woods nearby.
Symbolically, I found it a story contrasting tbe emotional effects of a
sterile, dead dramatic sKow^, Christ's Passion and Crucifixion and Resur-
rectionr-witb its abstract and undefined cruelties and mysteries, and tbe
effects of Nature's immediate drama of life and deaths— with its cruelties
and mysteries intensely physical, intensely alive, intensely personal to the
boy. The symbols are unavoidable and stark. Thus, in his walk through
the woods Richard encounters the intact shell of a locust. The boy is
much more rapt here than earlier, praying in the chapel towards "a dry
chalice, an empty grail."
TTial whole split back. Bet it doesn't Kurt any worse tKan ikat to be crucified.
He crossecl himself.
He sure did hold on hard.
He tried to imagine gripping hard enough that he broke his back wide open and
piJIed himself out of each leg and arm and finger and toe so cleanly and completely
that the exact shape would be left intact.
Later, after his stolen plunge in the forest pool^which itself is part
of the complicated symbolismr-'he and his companions come across a snake
which has just emerged from its last year's skin.
In every wheaten scale and in all his barbaric patterning he was new and clear as
gems, so gallant and sporting against the dun, he dazzled, and seeing him, Richard
was acutely aware how sensitive, proud and tired he must be in his whole body, for it
was clear that he had just struggled out of his old skin and was with his first return
of strength, venturing his new one.
The association that this image has w^ith the events commemorated and
renewed on this spiritual day of days is expanded by all that follows:
by the pride that drives Richard to smash in the snake's head despite his
adoration and fascination and fear of it, by his realization that the snake
will die slowly, will linger in fact till sunset, by Hobe's tossing the serpent
among the hogs which "with snarling squeals, scuffled over the snake,
tore it apart at its middle wound and, w^hile the two portions tingled in the
muck, gobbled them down."
Unmistakable in this novel, and, indeed, in a whole sector of con-
temporary fiction (look to novels like Frederick Buechner's A Long Day's
Dying and Alfred Hayes' The Girl on the Yia Flaminia), is a lyricism
which, it appears to me, is more proper to poetry than to fiction. These
writers attempt to extend unduly the modern fictional devices of the
interior monologue, the flashback, etc. Such devices, handled with care,
serve wonderfully to concentrate the action of the story, but if they do not
concentrate it in the characters and in such a way that the characters move
more substantially in their own material, time-locked, space-locked back-
ground, then the demands of some other art than fiction are being served.
Sometimes in Agee's story there is the effect that the boy loses his separate
identity, which gives weight to the objection of some critics that these are
The Two Faces of Fiction 17
not the sensibilities or a boy of twelve^-an objection wbicb on tbe surface
might appear to be mere carping.
The poet at the level of apprehension is not much concerned with "the
rhythm of ufe"; his concern is his intuitions about life. He imposes his
own rhythm, a formular one. the rhythm of his medium, poetry. His is
even a suspensive art to the degree that he progresses by splitting apart
the emotion from the experience in which it is contained. He tends to
abstract where the novelist tends to only sympathize. The novelist can
ill afford poetic abstraction and still preserve that correspondence betw^een
his creation and the pattern of life as we know it, that "solidity of specifica-
tion" which Henry James called the inspiration, despair, reward, torment,
and delight of the novelist. He can ill afford to let symbols become their
own excuse for being in his composition. This would be extreme romancing,
as destructive in its way as the extremes of naturalism in theirs.
The conclusion appears to me unavoidable that the writer who carries
his symbolism too far creates at most lifeless parable; equally unavoidable,
that the writer who concerns himself solely with swaths of fact creates only
case histories. There is a middle channel down which the finest novels
sail: such recent works as The Gallery, 1984, The Heart of the Matter, The
Track of the Cat, and The Brave Bulls. To appreciate them is to appre-
ciate a truth on which they depend, that the romancer, if his work would
have richness, must focus his vision in a clear-eyed perception of the
solid specifications of reality, that the naturalist, to be likewise successful,
must grant his land-locked gaze the mariner's freedom, who steers by both
reef and star.
By Claude F. Koch
The children dance from school: behold, their sun
Has crossed its nadir and their clock is stopped
At joy. Their spring unwinds its hours.
But no time from out each gay face lours.
Their year is always noon, and no alarum
Dropped from all the calculating world's bell towers
Dare second harm upon these sons of ours;
No tick shall irritate the minute heart.
And daylight saving is the standard watch
Apart from us they keep. Oh, we make much
Of sun and time, behold these sons eclipsing everyone
In brightness like the sun.
And, unlike time, in fun.
Like Olive Plants
Lilce olive plants, tKe Psalmist says my children are:
Banked round about the table in a ring.
And I in whose untropical asphalt no such green things grow
Am puzzled. I think of them as roaring hons seeking to devour.
They share, I guess, some quahties with trees: they're strong.
They willow with the wind, they sob in springs-
Perhaps for different reasons^-
(I have never had a tree come running to me desolate).
They're thick of skin, impervious to rain.
They sink their feet delightfully in mud and seem to thrive
And only God can know how far their subtle roots stretch underground.
But I cannot see in them the comehness of trees:
The sweet leanover, leaf-dripping lovehness, the sanguine shade;
I see the stalk only, bitter with growth.
And am harassed by husbandry.
The Psalmist has, however, bigger eyes
And visions harvest and transfiguration:
Blossom and flower and fruit'--
Fruit of the womb bearing fruit of its own in time
And going gathered and resplendent to the market.
By Leo Brady
Donne^s Distraction Is Not Mine
JoKn Donne complained a fly glanced tKrougK Kis prayers
Diverting him from God. I envy Donne.
Donne the divine upon his wooden knees
Beside the altar on an inert summer day
Tracing the burr and drone a fly makes
Like a feather in the ear, while huger hosts
With wings wait in the dome for messages
And tap, perhaps, angelic feet.
For Donne, at least.
There was a spell that could be broken:
Impertinent and agile fly could interrupt
Some supplication, never mind how tenuous.
God was served among the interstices
Of the web of flight this buzzer drew
So noisily on sanctuary air. My plight is poorer.
The contemplation of a fly is nearer than I get
To a consideration of the heavenly design.
Include me in your orbit, fly predestinate.
That I may watch God's will unfold
In your minute transparent wings, and see
You grease your fragile body nervously
Exactly in accordance with His plan.
Groan in the capacious vaults of my pretense
One small thin sound as here upon my knees
I contemplate distraction emptily.
By Edward Garry
ROCKBOUND and cold, its
great length commanding tlie
smooth, traveled terrain up
and down and crosswise for many
yards, the iron cyclops stretched in
the cheerful hght and w^elcomed
warmth of the middle time. When
the giant creature winked its emerald
eye, as it did at minute intervals, the
impatient throng of smaller creatures
surged ahead and over, showing no
fear despite the nearness of numer-
ous crouching, wide-faced monsters
eagerly threatening their safety. For
the stern cyclops also controlled the
dash and drag of the monstrous
things and encouraged the smaller
beings to pooh-pooh and scorn their
menacing speed and power.
Out of the motley reaching the
other side, one individual in black
garments separated himself from his
fellows and preferred to linger on the
brink, a yard above and away from
the dark, wide speedbed. He stood
watching something, another indi-
vidual like himself, a man also cos-
tumed in black clothes topped by an
endless white band around his neck,
a taller and heavier and stranger
man. The clothes of the smaller
man were not unlike those of his
tall counterpart, except for the collar,
which in his case was a band of
white like the usual neckpiece and
not turned around, and his cravat
was a flat piece of black silk that
covered the total front of his shirt.
At a short remove from the side
of the brink, the taller of the two
men stood in a small indentation
away from the swirling mass of busy
bodies and the smell and touch of
the monsters. In this shelter he
leaned easily against an upright post,
his head inclined, looking like a
philosopher musing on life and its
affairs, or a serious student reflecting
on his own problems, unaware that
the smaller man watched him.
The smaller man kept watching
the tall man, his face intent, the
corners of his mouth twitching, his
right hand going up occasionally to
the back of his head and neck, won-
dering and amazed at what he saw.
From the topmost button of his
form-fitting double-breasted over-
coat, a garment of extraordinary
length having a black velvet collar
and a triangle of white linen barely
visible above the top pocket, the tall
man let hang an arresting placard
three feet square. The sign carried
on its surface a series of incredible
markings evidently made by a stout
brush that had been dipped in scar-
let red and coal black paints. The
man's left hand held the edge of the
lingular sign, making sure it
wouldn't turn over when sudden
gusts of wind now and then blew^
along the man-made canyon. The
smaller man let the words on the
sign fall sharply and deliberately
upon his mental stencil. The sign
Read Your Bible J
Sunday ll P.M.
Read Your Biblel
Vibrating lilce an alerted ancbored
organism, tbe smaller man reacbed
into tbe side of bis black burberry
and took out a small book, into
wbicb be made scratches witb a tbin
instrument beld in bis fist. He
caused tbe metal tbing to glide
rapidly over tbe surface of tbe paper
getting down tbe wording of tbe
fascinating sign, as tbougb be was
obbged to copy every word in a very
sbort time. Periodically be would
besitate before making a new mark,
as tbougb be w^ere debating witb
bimself on some crucial detail, and
tben wTite more furiously tban be-
fore. During tbe entire time of writ-
ing, be managed a grin on bis face.
Before tbe smaller man bad com-
pleted bis writing, be saw witb some
alarm tbat tbe tall man was coming
towards bim, burrying as tbougb im-
pelled by an invisible force. It w^as
too late for tbe small man to turn
and go, for tbe tall man bad tbe
jump on bim. So be stood wbere
be was and waited, boping tbat tbeir
meeting would be brief, and tbat
baving said something, tbe tall man
would pass on.
Tbe carefree day was too lazy
witb spring for anyone to enter into
controversy. Tbe fresb, beavy frag-
rance of byacintbs and carnations
and roses and jonquils bung in tbe
air from tbe open-door florist sbop,
and tbe seductive odor could disarm
tbe most redoubtable Spartan war-
rior. So tbe smaller man waited,
wondering, boping for no conflict,
bis bead bent and band still, bis
He was conscious of tbe large
sboes before be saw tbe face of tbe
tall man in tbe long overcoat, and
tbey came up to bim as black, shape-
less congress gaiters, witb knobs in
tbe leather tbat indicated bunions
and crooked toes. Tbe feet were
those of an old man or one who bad
walked thousands of miles. But the
small man bad no time to reflect
upon what the shapeless shoes might
mean, because a ministerial, disturb-
ing voice stabbed bis ear.
"Friend," tbe voice said in exag-
gerated tones, "did you read your
Bible this morning?"
The small man froze; be couldn't
speak; be couldn't move a finger.
He could only look at tbe derby and
its jaunty angle, and at the swarthy
skin of tbe lugubrious face, and at
tbe two cold, distant pools of dark-
ness set high in the long swarthy
expanse. He could discern very
clearly tbe magnified bristles tbat
shot out from tbe man's jowls and
chin and upper lip, as though be
were viewing tbe saturnine face
through the grotesquerie of a mag-
nifying glass. But the distorted face
turned from bim and tbe voice came
forth again from some place in the
man's interior, a stronger sounding-
board now, more evangelical, more
sepulchral in tone, and as be spoke
be held onto bis sign so tbat all who
approached rnight read and all who
bad ears might bear.
"Folks, did you read your Bible
tnis morning? Everyone, even min-
isters of the Gospel, must read tKeir
Bible every day; it's tbe only way
to worship God. "
The small man came out of his
seizure and turned to hurry away.
He had witnessed sufficient strange-
ness for one day, even a spring day
in the greatest city in the world, and
he had enough to think about for
his next story. His thoughts there-
fore told him to ffee, to run before
ithe torrent, the flood, the in-
scrutable powerful thing that weak-
ened his insides and sent a metallic
taste high up to his mouth. In the
region behind his navel a noisy
contraction had his entrails, and the
bones in his legs momentarily turned
to chalk. But before he could take
his second step, his stride was
matched by the step of the tall man,
who kept shouldering him and
throwing his weight and crowding
him as they both stepped along the
fancy avenue, moving southward to-
wards the great white library that
has the two well-known stone lions.
The small man kept his look fixed
straight ahead, not looking fully
right or left, ignoring his partner-in-
stride, hoping to elude him and fear-
ful that he would never succeed. To
forget the demon tearing at his vitals,
he focused his attention on the
passersby. He forced his face to
take on a steady wisp of a smile and
made his mind hook onto the faces
as they came towards him. But his
hook slid on the smooth faces, never
able to hold onto any crevice of
recognition. The well-fed faces of
men in business grays and blues and
tans were not for his memory's
touch; the easy, gentle, slightly var-
nished magnets with the bright veily
bonnets registered nothing but aloof-
ness. Cool and distant and beauti-
ful they were, like the gem in the
Ethiop's ear. But not for him.
He was alone, a solitary traveler
on much traversed land, with an
enigma nudging him whose absurd
sign advertised the carrier's audacity
and the small man's unease.
"Are you game? "
That voice again! The disturb-
ance went into his head and shot
down into his lovv^er region, and for
a moment he double-stepped and lost
"Will you listen to me on Sun-
day night? "
Now the bass tones jabbed his
brains, turning them over, although
he managed to regain his stride. His
brains said that there d never be an-
other Sunday night. From Friday
to Sunday is an age, a light-year.
"Are you game? I said."
The strident tones were jarring
around in his stabbed head, his
punctured interior, his echoing soul.
They were making game of him.
He thought he might be saying the
crazy words himself.
"Will you listen?"
He must take hold of this madness
and form words that will make sense
and bring him peace. He would put
those strong w^ords in line, marshal-
ing them one after the other and
make them fight his battle. But his
mouth refused to open, his sound
box was paralyzed, he did not speak.
He could blame it on the small par-
ticle of gum between his front teeth,
that small thing acting like cement,
keeping his teeth together. Words
now would startle nimself.
If he could just blurt out any-
tKing. A "Shut up!" A wild "Go
to hell!" Anything would free him
from the sign, the interior sign and
the exterior sign. But no ejaculation
came out. No sound came forth.
It might be just as well, for the
sign would stop and the voice would
sound, and the enigma would ex-
ploit the hesitation on his part. He
didn't want to hear that voice again,
that disturbing sound and the rhe-
torical question. He didn't want to
see that sign flaunted again, that
obscene display, that pitchman and
In his mind's eye he could see the
boisterous thing. Paint from it
blinded him, the red stung his in-
terior eyeballs, the blacic muddied his
thinking. He moved his eyes to the
right without moving his head and
placed his thoughts on the fragile
softnesses in the window^, the deli-
cate pinks and m^auves and orchids
and salmons, making his mind jump
the occasional blacks. The sheer,
diaphanous things with the fine
workmanship at the heels, the net-
ting for loveliness and mystery, the
things that give unforgettable form
and shape, the beige and tan and
These vi^ere harbingers of a real
world that made sense and could be
understood, a world that might help
a solitary forget his flight from a
miad pursuer. There could be peace
and serenity and ease and no fear
in such a world. It was a world of
consolation and music and softness
and shy voices.
And in the other windows his
turned eyes could see the comple-
ment to that in the other windows,
these brighter, dazzling, stronger
windows, where gems and circles
and bands and strings and v-shaped
lines gave back in a thousand dif-
ferent, despairing ways the gold and
white and blue of the sky and sun.
This world also could make sense,
and those who frequented it; and he
met in his mind furtive inhabitants
dwelling in the small segment he
Only strangers faced him, distant
faces passed him by as though he
did not exist, complacent faces
looked through him and he never
felt so desperate. He had a hundred
acquaintances in this Bagdad, this
city of homes on cliffs, but the dwell-
ers were oblivious of him.
He thought he was free of his
"What are you?'
That voice hit against his head.
That piercing blow again.
He knew he had to escape this
darkling occult thing, even if the
ground beneath his feet w^ere to
open. He had to flee. His liaison
with a barker, a mountebank, a fly-
by-night revolted him. He was in
cahoots with fraud and the banal.
He was a confederate to a pitch-
man. It must not be.
The big blueness struck his eye
and cleared his head. He couldn t
have wished for a better beachhead
to get out of his sea of unease, this
sea with its treacherous quicksands
and whirlpools. The brightness of
the shield and the buttons and the
face. The blue of the eyes.
"I wonder if you could help me,
officer?" Hold it there, the voice
for tlie first time, Kold it even and
steady and low and cool, now tliat
you're out of tlie w^aves. Ignore tKe
off-center, off-sound cadences. At
ease, you're on the beacK.
"Sure, Father, wnat is it? '
Cool again now, light now again,
anything now^, anything at all, it
doesn't have to be real, to make
sense, to be exact, to be your need,
as long as you're cool.
"Where can I get a train for
Brooklyn?" That's it, now.
"Why, anywhere along here. "
The blue sheen of the arm went up
and to its right and came around and
back and rested at the side.
As if you didn't know that, as if
you were a real stranger, as though
you were from the hinterlands; and
the taller man sees and hears and
stands and holds his tongue and his
sign and you know he's making that
bold front to impress, to keep you
under his eye. You must get him
now. To speak then, hghtly too,
with dignity. It's no time to lose.
Look at the blueness. "Can you
step in here a minute? "
A step, and his step.
"Is he annoying you?"
A nod of the head. The first flush
of retaliation followed by a surge
demanding vindication, the passion-
ate exhaust, and the return of
strength. No. Stifle the low thing!
"He's a jerk. I'll fix him. "
Steady now in leaving, no run-
ning, throw off the shackles and
take a step and you'll be in a world
you understand. To the right then.
A glancing blow from a fusillade of
words, a staggering, a stop. The
"Folks, did you read your Bible
this morning? Everyone, even
policemen, must read their Bible
every day. "
A flash of blueness to the left.
A sound as decisive as a gunshot.
The sign and the blackness and
the derby and the sw^arthiness came
round. Another conflict. Small
blueness against tall blackness. Bet-
ter than small blackness against tall
blackness. Much better.
He w^as free to move leisurely
away, free to ease up. free to look
from left to right. He could move
across the narrow numbered street
and then turn to watch. His insides
taut still, and the taste not yet lifted
from his teeth. The moisture on
his broad forehead and upper lip
and below^ the armpits cooling now
under the aegis of the breeze along
the avenue. The soft faces and their
red and blue and dark halos. On
some the varnish had cracked and
the teeth show, regular, white,
strong. The sheen from long hair to
shoulders. The smell of pipe smoke
and Chanel and all-spice and Eng-
lish lavender and the gray of tweed
and the salt-and-pepper and the
gabardine skirts and coats in pastel
shades. People passed and repassed
and stopped before crossing. All his
From his stand he could see the
raised finger from the blue sleeve
and it went up and down in deliber-
ate rhythm. He saw the jaunty
derby leaning over, the sign swing-
ing now, a plaything of the breeze,
dismay on swarthiness. No words
came to him; the loose lips did not
move, the chin was not working. It
loolced lilce tKe end of tKe drama and
so he turned to walk towards the
On the Forty-second Street side
of the large edifice, the steps to the
entrance were busy up and down
and he took his time in chmhing
them, saving what vigor he had. No
cause to hurry now, he knew, no
reason to move fast, no need for
At the top of the first flight of
steps he stopped and put out his
foot to look at his shoes and found
that the laces v/ere loose and one
completely untied. He wondered
how that came about. Now, with
congress gaiters there were no laces
to come untied.
He went down to the shoes in a
slight bend that gave a dirk of pain
and made him quickly straighten
up. His side was acting up. He
bent once more, this time slowly
and easily, on guard for the slightest
sign of stiffness and pain. He tied
each shoelace slowly, deliberately,
his fingers more clumsy than he had
ever noticed before. His whole body
felt as though it had been melted
and poured into his clothes. The
back of his undershirt adhered to
Now he could stand fully erect
and move up the remaining flight
to the dark door and push it open.
He had to dodge the young men with
uncombed hair and short coats and
armsful of books. He looked at their
young, eager faces, their careless ap-
pearance. Someone was at his side,
the corner of his eye told him by
the blackness. The voice came forth
controlled, demanding. "Brother,
I d nke a word with you."
He turned his head and directly
beheld the man, tall and devoid of
the hanging placard. He didn't say
a word to answer him.
I know you'll give it to me. "
The tall man was sure of himself,
ahhough subdued in tone. His sign
was now rolled up and he held it
in his long hairy hand, its shape now
different but its inherent force still
a sort of weapon.
The small man looked away from
the furled thing, unpleasant symbol,
and from the tall blackness, and he
stared across the busy thoroughfare
to the far sidewalk, where the sun
fondled the gay shapes and the
virile forms, escorting them along
the bright pathway where they
moved with easy cadence and care-
He could see the displays in the
windows of the mammoth stores that
lined the street, the busy rialto, and
the suits and shirts and hats and
dresses and shoes placed in the exact
position to catch the shopper's eye.
He let his eyes close a little and
found the yellows and reds and blues
and the stripes and the whiteness
took on rococo shapes and lines. The
whole panorama was a medley of
forms, a wild array of color and dark
He looked back again to the
ground at his feet, at the uncleaned
steps and the dizzy pattern from the
stamped-on cigarettes and paper
and tinfoil and the tiny pools of
Without saying a word, the small
man led the way to the low stone
bench that was on the right as one
entered the building. Down here,
a flight below the busy entrance
they would be out of the library
traffic. The smell of the black earth
came up and over to them, damp and
pungent and redolent of leaves long
dead and their wetness. Here the
morning sun only could touch the
ground, but its fugitive glance never
had a chance to sweeten the soil.
Boxwood slowly put forth its shy
greenness. It could never hope to
match the eagerness of the trees and
bushes and the blossomy things that
thrived in the brightness of the
famous avenue. The air was damp
and quiet, and the presence of the
two in black gave a grimness to the
Their silence was a plodding
thing, full of the heaviness of mys-
tery and ignorance. In another mid-
dle time and another middle age
two similar figures in brown or white
or black gowns might have met on
stone bench before a temple dedi-
cated to similar pursuits, but they
would have a common ground for
understanding and discussion. The
small man found himself brought up
"Why'd you do it?"
He felt the prick in his cuticle, but
he kept his eyes averted so that he
would not see the face of the tall
man, preferring to watch the life in
the sun across the chasm, desiring to
join the march of shapely limbs and
well-shod men, never tiring of look-
ing at the swirling coats and dresses,
the speeding business, the walking
city. He gave no thought to answer-
ing the question. It could answer
"You played a trick on a col-
league." He resented the authori-
tarian tone, pontifical even in its
rich quality; he would not answer.
He could not get his mind to work
and form words. Effrontery iced
his mental faculties, the tall man's
"We're in the same business and
should be one." The small man
wasn't certain what w^as meant by
the word business. The same busi-
ness? He hoped not, he could see
the connotations of the word, the
sordidness of extracting money from
people under some sort of compul-
sion. He could hear rattling of coins
and the counting of change. Allied
words marched through his mind,
words that spoke of the street and
the plaza and the great spectaculum,
the gate, and the take, and the cut,
and the slice. He could put this
tall man on the right track.
But what would emerge? An
inane discussion on religion? Talk
of making a livelihood? He could
see the men at the newsstand crying
their newspapers, and the speedy
trucks rolling along that carried the
heavy bundles to throw them out at
corners. Li 1 Abner and Dick Tracy
and Baseball Sports in The Daily
He could counter with "Are we?
Or putting the counter-attack an-
other way, "What makes you so
sure? " And about being one, he
thought that business wasn't the
best integrator; neither is roguery,
though both are said to make people
thick. But he could only think, he
"Don't you ever talk, friend? '
He looked at the mouth from
where the words came, the wide
mouth, handsome and cruel and
forceful. The mouth of a showman.
He looked away from tKe dark win-
dow of the soul.
"You gave that cop wrong im-
The collar of the small man moved
up his neck to grab the short hairs
and pull at them and make him
twitch his neck. An annoying itch.
His collar was getting small and his
neck too tight. He opened his mouth
again, and again words refused to
issue. He was a veritable mute.
Suppose he might never speak
"Before I go to get some lunch,
I'd like to tell you something, " the
tall man said with a show of dis-
pleasure and contempt; "you ought
to know yourself like I do. " He
waved the folded sign reprovingly
at the small man. "That's why I
carry this sign, because I know my-
self; not one of you could do it."
The small man brought his right
hand up slowly and put it to his
forehead; and the big blackness got
up hurriedly. He spoke as he rose.
"No, you don't."
Again the small man was fascin-
ated by the long flow of the coat
and the tall man's quick reflexes.
He knew how to make his dramatic
movements count. He looked down
at the small man, who still sat on the
white bench. "Friend, I have to eat
and it's going to be a problem today,
unless like a colleague you'll help
me out. Not much money."
He stood in front of the small man
swaying with an easy rhythm, keep-
ing slow time by having the furled
sign go back and forth on the swivel
of his hand, a metronome in largo
"Brother, can you spare something.
something that will show your ap-
preciation of our meeting today? '
The small man looked at his face.
It was in repose and could have been
the visage of a Park Avenue clergy-
man at the bedside of a dying patron.
The small man's eyes were quiz-
zical, unbelieving. He looked into
the tall man's eyes, but the man
never flinched. "I've fifteen cents.
What could you get for that?" he
He stopped moving the sign and
held it in his left hand like a drum
major holds his baton when he's not
The small man felt in the inside
pocket of his inner coat, still watch-
ing the shoes of the tall man. He
took out a large, tooled-leather dark
brown wallet and fingered a bill.
The tall man's eyes went large at
the sight of the expensive wallet and
larger still at the bill. The tall man
looked earnestly towards the wallet,
and at the small man, and at the
people coming up and down. He
put out his hand before the dollar
was free of the leather wallet.
He took hold of the bill without
saying a word and moved to descend
the steps, with more hurry than
seemed necessary. Maybe he was
hungrier than he pretended. It was
after lunch time.
When he reached the sidewalk,
he unfurled his sign and hung it
again in its familiar place. From his
pocket he brought out a tiny note-
book and took it in his right hand.
He held his notebook high. The
small man stood to watch him, to
hear him again.
"Folks," the tall man cried out in
his loud voice, "did you read your
Bible today? Even tlie clergy should
read their Bible every day. '
When he said "clergy, " he turned
with his sign so that he could look
up to where the small man was
Neither man made any sign that
they saw^ each other. As the tall
man walked towards Sixth Avenue,
the man at the bench kept his at-
tention on him until he could no
longer see him. Then he w^alked
slovi^Iy up the remaining steps to
the hbrary entrance. Before touch-
ing the door to go in, he stopped.
His needs were physical needs,
but not food. He let his feet turn,
and walked dow^n. He couldn't
spend any time in the hbrary this
afternoon, nor did he wish to take
a walk in the street, or in the park,
or along the river.
Some inner voice told him that he
would never feel invigorated until he
reached his own apartment, and
could take off his black clothes, and
stepped under the shower. That
might help him, would be a sign
that the world he knew and hved
in was still carrying on.
(A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning)
By Brother Adelbert
There lie the smoking fields, the gaunt woods, charred
And choked with demolition where the hand
Of Fire stripped from them every sheathing band
Of glory, leaving skeletons with sard
Smoke rising from stalk brash and seared shard.
And then He said to me: At your command
Shall these stalks live, O son of man, and stand
Forth clothed with leaves and fruit for your regard?
Only the Vine remains, with long root deep
Sunk in an ocean of ash; but the fruit of the Vine,
Touched, tingles the brain like a knife on the teeth;
Yet the pity of Fire is in this, to make me keep
Five wits at arm's length while I drink the wine
Lethal to Death, for whom I wove this wreath.
The Theater in Phiiadetphia
Is There a Doctor in the House?
By Dan Rodden
THE PLAYWRIGHT KaJ long been considered tKe primary artist of
tKe theater; tKis notion has apparently been supplanted. The play-
doctor is now your man. Or rather the play-speciahst; certainly the
playwright is still a doctor, as in the sense of constant revision he always
has been, but he is a general practitioner. In emergencies^-and in an age
w^here plays cost a minimum of forty thousand dollars to produce, every
sniffle is an emergency— 'he calls in the speciahst. Or if he does not see
the need, and prefers to depend upon his own back-country skills to see
the patient through out-of-town ailments to the crisis of a Broadway
opening, members of the immediate family—- the producer and possibly
the important backers'—are apt to go over his head and call in specialized
The idea is not really new. In years past, such a specialist as Dr.
George S. Kaufman M^as frequently consulted in doubtful cases; his repute
was such that the G.P. was inclined to welcome his professional assistance.
Drs. Lindsay and Grouse once ministered to a play diseased, called Bodies
in the Cellar; it recovered and lived a full span as Arsenic and Old Lace.
(Dr. Kesselring, the G.P. on that case, retired for a number of years there-
after; he had diagnosed his patient as melodramatic, whereas specialists
Lindsay and Grouse had more correctly seen symptoms of comedy, and
had so treated. Kesselring achieved a certain reputation, however, which
persisted until he was so unwise as to enter into general practice again last
season with Four Times Twelve Is 48, whereupon his license was revoked.)
Earliest of all still practicing. Dr. George Abbott is a specialist noted for
dramatic recoveries. There have been others.
But this is the Age of Specialization, and the past few seasons have
seen a logical idea carried to illogical lengths. Which has been well
demonstrated by the current try-out season in Philadelphia, especially by
its first play.
BAGK IN THE MID-THIRTIES, a relative halcyon period when we
knew the empty feeling at the pit of our stomach was only hunger, a
imber, bird-headed man and a sprightly, red-headed girl danced their
way into the heart of America as had no such pair since Vernon Castle
crashed his plane, and Irene married a McLaughlin and took up anti-
vivisectionism. Not to make a rebus of it, the two in question were Fred
Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Early in September, Miss Rogers returned to the stage for the first
time in twenty-one years, or since she sang "Embraceable You ' in Girl
Crazy. Her vehicle, to pervert meanings, was Louis Verneuil's Love and
50 Four Quarters
Let Love, and opened tKe new season at the Forrest Theater. TKe opening
was eagerly awaited. M. Verneuil had had considerable luck the season
before with Affairs of State, and those who assumed it was nothing more
than a personal triumph for Miss Celeste Holm were confounded by its
continued success after she rehnquished her role to Miss June Havoc, who
is no place hke Holm. The combination of circumstances seemed to
augur well for a good night of comedy, and the advance sale bespoke
confidence in this prediction. It was the chagrin of the opening night
audience to discover that both their past pets had let them down badly.
Verneuil had created, or more likely dusted off, an obvious and humorless
piece, and Miss Rogers, though heaven knows no jury would ever convict
her, was playing quite as obviously and humorlessly.
I have a great deal of admiration for the charms of Mr. Alfred Lunt,
and his phonetic acrobatics have always seemed to me quite effective and
amusing. But this sort of play (I refer here to the suave, unfunny comedy
of the sexes: cf. anything recent by Noel Coward excepting possibly Blithe
Spirit) always seems to tempt the leading male actors into a vocal imper-
sonation of Mr. Lunt, and Miss Rogers' associates, the Messrs. Paul
McGrath and Tom Helmore, were not proof against this temptation. In
view of the lines they were called upon to speak, you couldn't blame either
of them for deciding to waive a legitimate characterization in favor of the
Lunt technique. But I did feel it was going a little too far when Miss
Rogers impersonated him, too.
The Philadelphia reviewers were kindly disposed towards the venture,
hence avoided discussion of the play and Miss Rogers' performance, rather
concentrating upon how handsomely her dress designer had turned her
out. How^ever, this did not quite satisfy the producers, perhaps influenced
to doubt by the fact that large audiences, trapped into this prior commit-
ment, were not amused. General practitioner Verneuil, professing not to
be disturbed about the condition, issued an encouraging bulletin and
several Gallic shrugs, and took off for Florida, thus displaying an attitude
which, whether we continue the medical analogy or revert to theater
practice, was rather unprofessional. And left the immediate family group
to frantic thumbing of W^af To Do Till the Doctor Comes.
Fortunately, or so it may have seemed at the time, help was at hand;
the American Medical Association was having its annual convention at
Atlantic City, and it was but an hour's fast drive to the bedside. Recog-
nizable in the second-night crowd by their lapel insignia, a caduceus
flanked by the masques of comedy and tragedy, the play-physicians were
most notably represented by Drs. John van Druten and Abe Burrows.
That Dr. van Druten is the eminent heart specialist, ex-Harley Street,
whereas Dr. Burrows is the famed Brooklyn belly man, would seem clear
indication that the patient was unable to say where it hurt. The tw^o
learned gentlemen made a cursory investigation, shook their heads gravely.
The Theater in Philadelphia 31
and fled the case, suggesting only that the New England climate might
help, but holding out no hopes for an eventual cure.
Daunted, which is the infrequently-used opposite of nothing daunted,
the producers arranged for a postponement of the New York crisis, and a
short sojourn in Boston. During the initial period in the Athens of the
West when no specialist would take the case, the patient tried home
remedies: it was reported in Variety, a medical journal, that Miss Rogers
and her cohorts were making up their own lines onstage, as a commedia
gesture in the direction of doing something. This theatrical equivalent of
Hadacol proving ineffective, the producers were finally able to prevail
upon Dr. Sally Benson, noted specialist in the diseases of adolescence, to
take over. Despite re-staging assistance from Dr. Bretaigne Windust, the
two weeks in Boston seem to have had little result; when the patient reached
Manhattan, the Philadelphia prognosis was justified.
PAINT YOUR WAGON. A Musical Play by Frederick Loewe and
Alan Jay Lerner, at the Shuhert Theater.
The first musical this fall. Paint Your Wagon, held promise because
it was the collaborative effort of the team which had provided the felicitous
Brigadoon. In this instance, Loewe has given us music of some character,
but Lerner's book^which, as a guess, has been cut from a hundred pages
to something like forty^--is sentimental, poorly motivated, and simple-
minded. (Simple-mindedness is not necessarily a vice in a musical play;
here it is, because the trappings are epic.) The performers are mostly up
to the demands of the script but^-unless you are a James Barton man,
which I am not^-they never rise above it. One of the songs, "I Dream of
Elisa," has a chance to become what is known as a standard, unless it is
defeated by Lerner's obvious and saccharine final rime. Incidentally, the
entire company was thrown into an absolute panic opening night by the
presence in the audience of the aforementioned Dr. Burrows; it turned out
he was there purely in a lay capacity, but it was several days before order
was restored. Again, comforting Philadelphia reviews failed to reassure
the producers, and again they scheduled further out-of-town treatment in
Boston. (A buxom lady was heard to say, in the Shubert lobby after the
show, "I liked it much better than Oklahoma]" I think, and I hope, that
she is the same lady whom I overheard make the same remark last Spring,
FAITHFULLY YOURS. A Comedy fcy L. Bush-Fehete and Mary Helen
Fay, based on a play by Jean Bernard Luc, at the Forrest Theater.
A tiresome and trivial item about a wife who attends a performance of
Eliot's Cocktail Party and thereupon suspects her husband of psychosis
because he is too faithful, this is a play where the initial premise is so
ridiculously unacceptable that you resent it every time you laugh there-
after. Such a motivation might possibly tee-off a domestic-type radio
half-hour, or a fairly amusing eight-minute revue skit, but here attenuation
5 a Four Quarters
proves disastrous. No doctoring M^as even attempted, tKe producer ap-
parently being aware that he had caught something hice the common cold,
w^hich would last about two weeks whether or not treated. Again, as with
Love and Let Love, you had to restrain your impulse to burst into the
theater manager's office and declaim, loudly, "This is the Forrest's prime
THE NUMBER. A Play By Arthur Carter, at the Walnut Street Theater.
This melodrama was well-received by the Philadelphia critics, who
pronounced it well-made, and praised the playing. What doctoring w^as
necessary was accomphshed by its director, George Abbott, M.D., who
removed an appendix (the leading lady!) and ventured other mild therapy.
I didn't get to see it. For some unfair reason, I don't think it will run very
TOP BANANA. A Musical Comedy By Hy Craft and Johnny Mercer,
at the Shuhert Theater.
I have been laughing at this material ever since I can remember, and
I certainly don't intend to stop now. Top Banana has a poor score and an
unreasonable plot, which turns out not to matter in the least. What does
matter is that Phil Silvers gives one of the best-sustained comic perform-
ances of recent memory and that the play incorporates every successfully
rowdy bit of low^ comedy business since the first Aristophanic prat-fall.
The only doctors in sight were the Messrs. Kronkhite and Quackenbush,
who slapped the patient in the puss with a custard pie and beat about his
head with an inflated bladder, whereupon the three went skipping merrily off
to New York. I have no respect for this play whatsoever, and I certainly
wish I had money in it.
BAREFOOT IN ATHENS. A Play by Maxwell Anderson, at the Locust
But for the resourceful and accomplished performance of Barry Jones
as Socrates, Maxwell Anderson's most recent testimonial to democracy
would be a piece uncomfortably mixed in tone. As it is, Mr. Jones makes
the play succeed as comedy; it fails as the drama of ideas Anderson says
he intended it to be. The comedy points are made because Jones is just
the Socrates our meagre acquaintance imagines: constantly questioning,
ever-seeking, humorous when serious and serious when humorous. The
ideas fail because Anderson again belabors an already-convinced audience
with the already accepted symbol. Democracy. Shaw's ideas, or Ibsen's,
have controversial spark enough to lend an extra-theatrical excitement;
Anderson's are platitudes. (That is, they are unless you remember Act II,
Scene l of Joan of Lorraine, where he unwisely conceptualized and defined
his notion of democracy, and disqualified himself as a thinker.) Obviously,
no play-doctor would be called up by Anderson; his plays die, when they
die, unattended and in the odor of sanctity.