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Poetry from M.I.T.; Robert Penn Warren

Part of From the Vault. Part of Nine Poets Walk Into An Institute of Technology.


In this recording, one of several poetry readings and talks from M.I.T. that aired on WGBH in 1963, Robert Penn Warren offers some biographical retrospections before reading several recent poems. Acknowledging that he "considered the invitation to come to M.I.T. with some trepidation," Warren references C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures, but indicates that he himself been interested in chemistry as a youth, and had initially intended to major in chemistry as an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University. Explaining that poets "cultivate ignorance" and that poems are written "to find out what you think or feel" and "to be alone with that unshaped inside fuzziness," Warren contrasts the way of poetry and the way of science, reading a series of poems that obliquely address this distinction, including "Eidolon"; "Original Sin: A Short Story"; a pair of poems from the sequence "To a Little Girl, One Year Old, in a Ruined Fortress," titled Sirocco" and "The Child Next Door"; "Country Burying, 1919"; "Dragon Country: To Jacob Boheme"; a poem from the "Garland for You" sequence, titled "Man in the Street"; "Harvard '61: Battle Fatigue"; and three poems from the sequence in process tentatively titled "Delight," titled "Into Broad Daylight," "Something is Going To Happen," and "Not to be Trusted." The most provocative moment of the reading comes in Warren's performance of a poem titled "So You Agree With What I Say? Well, What Did I Say?" In prefacing this piece, Warren says: "here's a little poem that has an IBM machine in it; in fact it ends with one. You can take that as a tribute if you like." Summary and select metadata for this record was submitted by Jim Cocola.

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Poetry from M.I.T.
Robert Penn Warren
Series Description

Radio series. Series release date: 1963

Program Description




Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Cambridge, Massachusetts
Poetry readings (Sound recordings)
United States Poet Laureate
Art and Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989
Artistic Influences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Performance for a Live Audience
Event Coverage
Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989 (Speaker)
Publication Information
Copyright © 1963 by Robert Penn Warren
Chicago: “Poetry from M.I.T.; Robert Penn Warren,” 01/01/1963, GBH Archives, accessed July 23, 2024,
MLA: “Poetry from M.I.T.; Robert Penn Warren.” 01/01/1963. GBH Archives. Web. July 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Poetry from M.I.T.; Robert Penn Warren. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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