Escape the Dark Destructive Force

Hillyer, Robert


  • Robert Hillyer describes his belief that a poet's job is to strip away dead or negative emotions to allow room for light, and his belief in finding satisfaction from each day as it arrives. This episode is a rebroadcast of an earlier airing.
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And now, This I Believe. We bring you an earlier broadcast which is being repeated because of the special interest it aroused. Here is Edward R. Murrow as he first introduced the guest.
This I Believe. Robert Hillyer is a poet, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who has recently published a new book of lyric poems, The Suburb By the Sea. Known to many through his writings, he is also the president of the Poetry Society of America, and was formerly a teacher in such colleges as Harvard and Kenyon. Born in East Orange, New Jersey, he now makes his home with his family in Greenwich, Connecticut. Hear now a poet's creed.
“I feel the coming glory of the light.” This last line of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s sonnet “Credo”
expresses the general basis of my belief. It is my task to clear away the debris of dead emotions, regrets, and petty ambitions that the quickening light may come through. The five senses and the mystery of the breath draw in the wonder of the world, and with that the glory of God. I may seldom rise to moments of exaltation, but I try to keep myself prepared for them. Thus, I oppose the desire for oblivion that gnaws at our roots even as the light is summoning us to bloom.
The desire for oblivion conspires against the soul from outer circumstances and also from within oneself. Its agents are worry and resentment, envy and show. Its impulse is to seek things that are equally disappointing
whether they are missed or acquired. Its result is an abject conviction that everything is futile. By meditation and prayer, I can escape that dark, destructive force and win my way back to the beauties of the world and the joy of God.
I believe in my survival after death. Like many others before me, I have experienced “intimations of immortality.” I can no more explain these than the brown seed can explain the flowering tree. Deep in the soil in time’s midwinter, my very stirring and unease seems a kind of growing pain toward June.
As to orthodox belief, I am an Episcopalian, like my family before me. I can repeat the Creed without asking too much margin for personal interpretation. To me it is a pattern, like the sonnet form in poetry, for the compact
expression of faith. There are other patterns for other people, and I have no quarrel with these. By many paths we reach the single goal.
I believe in the good intentions of others, and I trust people instinctively. My trust has often been betrayed in petty ways, and once or twice gravely. I cannot stop trusting people, because suspicion is contrary to my nature. Nor would I, because the number of people who have justified my trust are ten to one to those who have abused it. And I know that on occasion I have myself, perhaps inadvertently, failed to live up to some trust reposed in me.
That the universe has a purposeful movement toward spiritual perfection seems to me logical, unless we are all cells in the brain of an idiot. A belief in spiritual as well as physical evolution has sustained me in an
optimism still unshaken by cynics. There may be setbacks of a century or even centuries, but they seem small reverses when measured against the vast prospect of human progress or even the record of it up to this point.
I am blessed with a buoyant temperament and enjoy the pleasures of this earth. For daily living, I would say: one world at a time. I do not wish my life to be cluttered with material things; on the other hand, I do not wish to anticipate, by fanatical self-denial, the raptures to come. Sufficient unto the day is the good thereof.
That was a repeat of an earlier broadcast by poet and teacher Robert Hillyer, whose optimistic faith is the basis for his joy in living.