The Voice Of Walt Whitman – American Poets – 1890-1950 – Past Daily Weekend Gallimaufry

The only known recording of the voice of Walt Whitman.

The only known recording of the voice of Walt Whitman.

– American Poets – Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow – August 5, 1951 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

Since it’s still 4th of July Weekend, I ran across this radio program of influential American Poets during the last part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century and thought it would be good to share. Included is the only known recording of Walt Whitman, taken from a cylinder made in 1890. At the time, this was a revolution in preserving the human voice, and later music. In addition to Whitman are the voices of James Whitcomb Riley from 1903, Edwin Markham, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and an interview with William Carlos Williams in 1951. It was part of a radio series, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and broadcast on August 5, 1951.

Most of these poets have faded from current prominence, as styles and poetry itself have changed over the past several decades. But these were historic and important contributors to our culture, and provide a link to earlier forms, which at the time were considered radical to what had gone on before.

The work is highly evocative and certainly qualifies as genuine Americana. Whether it holds up over the passage of years – whether it’s considered the touchstone of a time we only know through photographs and written words and is appreciated as part of an evolution in human spirit and form of expression of that time, is up to the reader.

In either case, it’s history and you may never have heard these voices before.

Enjoy – back to work tomorrow.

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6 Responses

  1. Timmy says:

    Is that Don Pardo doing the intro here?

  2. Walt Santner says:

    A Fake Audio Butterfly
    October 9, 2014 by Bryan Cornell

    Repeatedly over the years a recording purporting to be the voice of Walt Whitman has surfaced. Sadly, it has long been the opinion of the reference staff at the Library of Congress that the recording, like the cardboard butterfly pictured on Whitman’s finger below, is a fake.

    http://blogs.loc.gov/now-see-hear/2014/10/a-fake-audio-butterfly/

    • gordonskene says:

      I’ve heard that too – and had been asked that several times. It is rumored to be Len Spencer. Much the same as the purported Voice of McKinley. But the rest of the program was of such interest that I had to run it.