Sissman Reads His Poetry Before Harvard Phi Betas
"Aging, grey, in the cloud-shadows of Commencement Day," L. E. Sissman '18 returned to Sanders yesterday to address the literary exercises of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of Massachusetts.
Sissman, the insurance man turned poet, read a semi-autobiographical poem in seven parts, "Temporary Measures: A Book of Hours," which he had composed for the occasion. The poem recounted Sissman's life, from Lowell R-34 to "the stars which swallow us in distance now and soon enough in death."
"Temporary Measures" rang with echoes of Shakespeare, Frost and Lowell, but spoke only of Sissman. The speaker who followed, John M. Blum '43, Fellow of Harvard College, also spoke of his life, and of the changes which have occurred in the world since his graduation. Blum spoke of the "age of heroes" which was transpiring while he was in College, of the soldiers in the Second World War.
No Brave New World
"As sons of neighbors, athletes and farm boys-unintellectual, mechanically adept-they did not fight for the Brave New World... There was no sense of the great cause," Blum said.
Blum pointed to the writings of John Hersey and Norman Mailer '43 to explain the widening sense of disgust in which war is viewed. He cited the late General George Patton as the prototype of the "unintellectual" warrior, interested only in destruction.
In conclusion, Blum stated that the new generation has brought with it new heroes-heroes of the counterculture, not soldiers. "Where have all the heroes gone?... Gone from soldiering, every one," he said.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, President Pusey was presented with an inscribed copy of the official history of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. M. J. R.