Friday, June 30, 2017

Sachem Howl

First page of the transcript.
 We've blogged before about our amazing first City Lights edition of Allen Ginsberg's Howl, published in 1956, as well as the unique mimeograph of the poem that Ginsberg sent to the poet Richard Eberhart, complete with manuscript corrections in Ginsberg's own hand. Recently, while answering a reference question about the Sachem Oration, we discovered a Dartmouth alum's homage to Ginsberg's groundbreaking work. Previously, many speakers had delivered their traditionally humorous oration in a false old-timey accent meant to harken back to Eleazar Wheelock and the foundation of the college. H. Dutton Foster, member of the class of 1961 and the chosen Sachem Orator for his cohort, decided instead to take a more modern approach to the honor.

Second page of the transcript."I saw the second-best minds of my generation filed alphabetically in Parkhurst Hall," the speech begins, "Leaving their owners empty-headed, facing alone the dreadful I.B.M., / My brothers of sixty-one, Campion-clad, waiting for the sheepskin key to the magic forest of crisp green dollar bills, / Who trundled into Hanover, four years ago, from America's highschools and prepschools [sic] and  reform schools." Foster continues with such choice lines as, "I'm with you, sixty-one, / taking a Herb West course, and telling him that your mother wants you to get an A," or "I'm with you at Dick's House, / putting the thermometer under your armpit because you have an hour exam coming up." In conclusion, Foster says, "Goodbye, Dartmouth! It wasn't as bad as I make it look: we love you, even if we are critical! It's your own fault for lighting candles in our minds!"

To read the entire transcript of the 1961 Sachem Oration, or those from many other years, come to Rauner and ask for the "Sachem Oration 1947-1969" folder in Box 7443 from the Upper Class Deans Records (DA-673).