JANUARY 14, 1949
WASHINGTON, Thursday—In case you are interested in Ireland, and since a great many United States citizens have some ties to that delightful country, I would recommend to you "Irish Gold," a book that has just come into my hands although it was published in 1947.
I find it delightfully written and it almost brings the Irish countryside and the smell of a peat fire into the room. One should really read it in the country, because it is a country book with an understanding of the joys of the Irish countryside, of horses and dogs and of the people who are so friendly and still have their reserves.
One passage in the book that particularly intrigued me reads: "to know Ireland at all you must go away from it, and the farther you go, the clearer your vision will become."
Perhaps it is because so many of us in this country have gone away from Ireland that we have such a clear vision and are certainly attracted to it.
Another book all Americans should read is "The Poetry of the Negro, 1746 to 1949," edited by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps.
This work is well done and comprehensive, but I'm afraid I can't say that many of us will enjoy this poetry. Nevertheless, it should be read. Over and over again the bitterness and the disillusionment and the sorrow of a race appear on its pages. The poems are all interesting, and some of them are beautiful.
Here are a few lines from Countee Cullen, who wrote that extraordinary poem, "The Black Christ." This is from his "From the Dark Tower":
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap
Not everlasting while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep."
Repeatedly, this sentiment crops up in different ways and I got from the book a feeling that, unknowingly, a vast number of us had given our brothers an amount of unhappiness that could neither be explained nor excused.
There is one new university where these problems of recognition of all our citizens on an equal basis actually may be solved. This is Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.
Brandeis was fortunate enough to find a campus ready-made. The buildings belonged at one time to the Middlebury School of Medicine, now closed.
Named for a great liberal, the late Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, the school is the first Jewish university sponsored in the United States that is open not only to Jews but to Catholics and Protestants of every race. It should do something to counterbalance the bitterness that runs through the Langston Hughes-Arna Bontemps anthology. One can only pray that it will fulfill the hopes of all those who have suffered in minority groups.