BILL MOYERS: Faithful viewers of this broadcast know that from time to time we ask poets to drop by and share their work with us. This time, our guest is the versatile Philip Appleman, whose creativity spans a long life filled with verse, fiction, philosophy, science, religion, and above all, moments of every day experience captured like the glint of the sun sparkling through a crystal glass. Just take a look at a sample of his legacy: Darwin, Apes and Angeles, Darwin’s Ark, In the Twelfth Year of the War, Open Doorways, and this, my favorite: Summer Love and Surf, about the joys and wonders of loving and living. His latest book of poems is Perfidious Proverbs.

A fellow poet said that to watch Philip Appleman “sling words is to be richly regaled.” I quite agree.

Welcome Philip.

PHILIP APPLEMAN : Wonderful to be here, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: I have long thought of poetry as music to be heard best in the voice of the composer. So let's go right to some of your poems.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Good. I love it.

BILL MOYERS: Here's one of my favorites. And I think it's one of your favorites, too, “Eve.” Tell me about that poem.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Twenty years ago, I published a book called Let There Be Light. It was a series of satires on various Biblical stories. And Eve being one of the first came out at the head of the list. And, shall I read it?


PHILIP APPLEMAN: Eve is kind of reflecting on the snake, at first.

Clever he was, so slick he could weave words into sunshine. When he murmured another refrain of that shimmering promise, “You shall be as gods,” something with wings whispered back in my heart, and I crunched the apple—a taste so good I just had to share it with Adam. And all of a sudden we were naked. Oh yes, we were nude before, but now, grabbing for fig leaves, we knew that we knew too much, just as the slippery serpent said—so we crouched all day under the rhododendrons, trembling at something bleak and windswept in our bellies that soon we'd learned to call by its right name: fear.

God was furious with the snake and hacked off his legs, on the spot. And for us it was thorns and thistles, sweat of the brow, dust to dust returning. In that sizzling skyful of spite whirled the whole black storm of the future: the flint knife in Abel's heart, the incest that swelled us into a tribe, a nation, and brought us all like driven lambs, straight to His flood. I blamed it on human nature, even then, when there were only two humans around, and if human nature was a mistake, whose mistake was it? I didn't ask to be cursed with curiosity. I only wanted the apple, and of course, that promise—to be like gods. Maybe we are like gods. Maybe we're all exactly like gods. And maybe that's our really original sin.

BILL MOYERS: The original sin. Hubris, right?


BILL MOYERS: You've said that's one of your favorites. What makes it a favorite?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: I like the personal tone of Eve, who, you know, doesn’t get to say anything in the Bible, to speak of. And to turn her into a kind of down to earth reinterpretor of that kind of tickles me, that's all.

BILL MOYERS: She finally gets to tell her own story.


BILL MOYERS: Did you ever wonder about the silence in that story of the first woman, as it says?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Yeah. No woman I know would tolerate it.

BILL MOYERS: Exactly. Here's one that we like, especially. It's one of the five poems of pagans that you did. And this is one of the short ones. Would you read that one? And by the way, tell us what Mammon is, for those who haven't been reading the Bible lately.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Well, Mammon is the love of money and greed and he’s the god of wealth. I call it my Bernie Madoff poem.


PHILIP APPLEMAN: O Mammon, Thou who art daily dissed by everyone, yet boast more true disciples than all other gods together, Thou whose eerie sheen gleameth from Corporate Headquarters and Vatican Treasury alike, Thou whose glittering eye impales us in the x-ray vision of plastic surgeons, the golden leer of televangelists, the star-spangled gloat of politicos-- O, Mammom, come down to us in the form of Treasuries, Annuities, & High-Grade Bonds, yield unto us those Benedict Arnold Funds, those Quicksand Convertible Securities, even the wet Judas Kiss of Futures Contracts—for unto the least of these Thy supplicants art Thou welcome in all thy many forms. But when Thou comest to say we’re finally in the gentry-- use the service entry.

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever go back and say, "Oh, that's one of my first children. I mean, I remember-- I've forgotten that kid, but now I realize that it is my poem."

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Yeah, I love reading the early poems as much as the late ones. I brought along a poem which it would be an interruption, sort of, of the thrust here. But--

BILL MOYERS: That's what life is about, a series of constant interruptions, Philip, go ahead.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: The first thing you see in this book is a dedication that's for Margie, who happens to be my wife. We're looking forward to our 62nd anniversary this summer. And the dedication says, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight." But because Margie is home and has had a stroke and is ill, I would like to read a poem for her, if you don't mind.

BILL MOYERS: Please do.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: It's from a book called “Summer Love and Surf,” which came out in 1968. And it's the most beautiful book. It's so beautifully designed that it won the—

BILL MOYERS: Oh it is.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: --design contest for that year. And was written when we were living out in Malibu, in one of those houses that are built on stilts. And it's so far on the beach that at high tide, the ocean is gurgling under your bedroom. And we love it there. And this is a young love poem. And in recent years, I've written poems for our 50th anniversary and our 60th anniversary, which are very old love poems. But this is sort of back at the beginning.

“Summer Love and Surf”

Morning was hesitating when you swam at me through wave on wave of sheet and blanket, glowing like some dimly sighted flora at the bottom of the sea. Around your filmy hair, light was seeping in with water sounds, low growling in the distance, like dragons chained.

After our small storm dwindled, we faced the rage outside, swells humping up and charging in to curl and pause and dash themselves to soapsuds on the stork-legged pilings of our house. The roar was hoarser now, The wrecks of kelp were heaping food for flies, our long-nosed sand birds staying close to dry land; farther out, pelicans arched their wings in quick surprise and gulls scream urgently. The call was there: we fought the breakers out and rode their fury back, triumphant and again triumphant, till at last, ears stuffed with brine and heads a-spin like aging boxers battered, we flopped face down on hot sand, smelling sun and salt and steaming skin. Your eyes were suddenly all sleep and love, there in the sun, with sea birds calling.

The sky goes metal at the end, water, gray and hostile, lashing out between the day and night. Plastic swans are threatened; deck chairs, yellow towels, barbecues stand naked to the peril, as if it were winter come by stealth. Still later, in the lee of dark and warmth, we probe the ancient fear: at night the sea is safer under glass, the crude, wild thing half tamed to shed its past— galleons sent to fifty fathoms, mountains hacked to rubble, cities stripped. At night, the sea, barbaric bellows stifled, sprawls outside the window, framed like a dark, unruly landscape. Behind us is a darker kind of dark: I watch your eyes for signals.

The music makes a pause for prophecy: “Tomorrow, off-shore breezes and…” Warmth to each other's warmth, we do not listen.

BILL MOYERS: That was how long ago?


BILL MOYERS: You had been married--

PHILIP APPLEMAN: We had been married 18 years, at that point.

BILL MOYERS: How does love change from then to now?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: It's more profound and more essential. It was very strong right from the beginning. We met on the first day of French class at Northwestern University in 1946. And we've been together ever since.

BILL MOYERS: She became a playwright, didn't she?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: She was a playwright. And her plays have been produced about 60 times in mostly New York and Los Angeles.

And I appreciate her work on my poetry and other things I write. She is a wonderful critic. Four years ago, she had a stroke. And that kind of put an end to her writing. So that was a very sad thrust.

BILL MOYERS: I’m curious as to this poem, “This Year's Valentine.” Where did that come from? What's it about?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: I wrote this right after the Twin Towers went down. This was a poem I wrote for the next Valentine's Day.

They could pump frenzy into air ducts and rage into reservoirs, dynamite dams and drown the cities, cry fire in theaters as the victims are burning, but I will find my way through blackened streets and kneel down at your side. They could jump a median, head-on, and obliterate the future, fit .45's to the hands of kids and skate them off to school, flip live butts into tinderbox forests and hellfire half the heavens, but in the rubble of smoking cottages I will hold you in my arms.

They could send kidnappers to kindergartens and pedophiles to playgrounds, wrap themselves in Old Glory and gut the Bill of Rights, pound at the door with holy screed and put an end to reason, but I will cut through their curtains of cunning and find you somewhere in moonlight.

Whatever they do with their anthrax or chainsaws, however they strip-search or brainwash or blackmail, they cannot prevent me from sending you robins, all of them singing: I'll be there.

BILL MOYERS: A year after 9/11 in that huge climate of fear, how could you have such faith in love?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: It's always been there for me. And it keeps me consciously aware that I'm not alone on this earth yet. We're up in our eighties now, so there'll be a time in sometime soon when I will be alone. But while I'm here the thing that I most value is that, love.

BILL MOYERS: Is that the source of the meaning in your life? I mean, you have this remarkable essay, that had a profound impact on me a few years ago, on how the meaning of life comes out of the moment you're acting, out of your choices every moment, of how you will live that life. "Meaning is not out there," you say, "it is in the doing of the moment."

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Right you create your own definition, you create your own meaning, as you act. I was brought up in a small Indiana town, went to a fundamentalist church. And when I was about 13, thought my mission was to be a missionary to darkest Africa and bring the message. That cleared away a couple of years later. But--

BILL MOYERS: Why did it clear away?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: I kept reading books and finding out things. And after a while, I realized that what I believed in didn't have much to do with reality. And I studied Catholicism for a while. And I went on to take on all the other belief systems. I read all the holy books of, you know, the Koran and the Buddhist and the Hindus.

And I spent years doing that, searching for the meaning of life out there, you know. And eventually, having gone through it all, decided I had to decide on these things for myself. And so I left the holy books behind and started making my own philosophy of life, which pretty much is in the essay you were talking about.

I consider myself a humanist, not just an atheist, but a humanist.

BILL MOYERS: Which means?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Means someone who wishes he could work for the betterment of the human condition without reference to a supernatural thing.

BILL MOYERS: Well, you do often, in your poems. I think of another poem that also has been a favorite of mine, called simply, “Gertrude.” Would you tell me about this one and read it?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: My mother was one of those saintly mothers, some of us are lucky enough to have. Her name was Gertrude. And she was struck by rheumatoid arthritis when she was about 40. And spent a great part of her life after that in bed or in a wheelchair or something. She was hit very hard. And all of her children, my three sisters and I, did everything we could to help, but nothing worked.

And finally she died at the age of 75. I wish that all the people who peddle God could watch my mother die: could see the skin and gristle weighing in at seventy-nine, every stubborn pound of flesh a small death.

I wish the people who peddled God could see her young, lovely in gardens and beautiful in kitchens, and could watch the hand of God slowly twisting her knees and fingers till they gnarled and knotted, settling in for thirty years of pain.

I wish the people who peddle God could see the lightning of His cancer striking her, that small frame tensing at every shock, her sweet contralto scratchy with the Lord's infection: Philip, I want to die.

I wish I had them gathered round, those preachers, popes, rabbis, imams, priests—every pious shill on God's payroll—and I would pull the sheets from my mother's brittle body, and they would fall on their knees at her bedside to be forgiven all their faith.

BILL MOYERS: That's very powerful. And in contrast to all of the people both of us know, some of them who find faith a consolation at the time of death. That's intriguing how the human beings walk such different paths, when it comes to religion.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: When Margie's mother died-- she was another saint. But she died regretting to herself all the sins she had had in her life. And because she hadn't really had any sins, but little shortcomings, she forgot to say thank you to someone or something like that. And the whole thing came crashing in on her and she was convinced she was going to go to hell.

BILL MOYERS: This one is from “Karma, Dharma, Pudding and Pie.” Will you read that?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: This poem has an epigraph from Job. It says, "God will laugh at the trial of the innocent." The poem is called “God's Grandeur.”

When they hunger and thirst, and I send down a famine, When they pray for the sun, and I drown them with rain, And they beg me for reasons, my only reply is: I never apologize, never explain.

When the Angel of Death is a black wind around them And children are dying in terrible pain, Then they burn little candles in churches, but still I never apologize, never explain.

When the Christians kill Jews, and Jews kill the Muslims, And Muslims kill writers they think are profane, They clamor for peace or for reasons at least, But I never apologize, never explain.

When they wail about murder and torture and rape, And unlucky Abel complains about Cain, And they ask me just why I had planned it like this, I never apologize, never explain. Of course, if they're smart they can figure it out-- The best of all reasons is perfectly plain. It's because I just happen to like it this way-- So I never apologize, never explain.

BILL MOYERS: Job kept asking why--

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Poor thing, yeah.

BILL MOYERS: --and never got an answer.


BILL MOYERS: Jesus himself, "Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me?" No answer.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: I'm not so impervious to the world that I don't know that religion does a lot of good sometimes. That some religious people really are good and they want to do good. But unfortunately, so many religious people let the religions lead them into hatred.

BILL MOYERS: Let's have a little fun with one from “Perfidious Proverbs.” It's actually called “Parable of the Perfidious Proverbs”. And proverb, as people I hope know, is an epigram of wisdom contained in the “Book of Proverbs” in the-- in what Christians call The Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.


BILL MOYERS: How better it is to get wisdom than gold.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Money buys prophets and teachers, poems and art, So listen, if you're so rich, why aren't you smart?

BILL MOYERS: He that spareth his rod, hateth his son.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: That line gives you a perfect way of testing your inner feelings about child molesting.

BILL MOYERS: He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: But here at the parish, we don't find it overly hard To accept his dirty cash or credit card.

BILL MOYERS: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: That's just why the good Lord made it mandatory To eat your heart out down in Purgatory.

BILL MOYERS: Wisdom is better than rubies.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Among the jeweled bishops and other boobies It's also a whole lot rarer than rubies.

BILL MOYERS: He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Trusting your heart my not be awfully bright, but trusting proverbs is an idiot's delight.

BILL MOYERS: I like that. I like that. That's from “Perfidious Proverbs,” which is your new book. What gives you happiness? What gives you joy?

PHILIP APPLEMAN: Poetry does, music does, theater does, but mostly I think it's just having my wife and living quietly and enjoying being together. I think that's the greatest thing in my life.

BILL MOYERS: Philip Appleman, thank you very much for being with me.


The Poetry of Philip Appleman

Bill talks with and invites readings by renowned poet, novelist, and editor Philip Appleman, whose creativity spans a long life filled with verse, fiction, philosophy, and religion. The author of nine books of poetry, three novels, and six volumes of non-fiction, Appleman’s most acclaimed work includes explorations of the life and theories of Charles Darwin. A scholar of Darwin, Appleman edited the critical anthology Darwin, and wrote the poetry books Darwin’s Ark and Darwin’s Bestiary, earning him praise for illuminating the “overwhelming sanity” of Darwin’s thought with clarity and wit. Appleman’s latest poetry collection is Perfidious Proverbs.

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  • JonThomas

    I have to say that I, for one, revere  the scriptures for many reasons, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this interview and the poems of Mr. Appleman.

    I laughed with his observations and like to think that The Creator also enjoys such musings.

    Just irreverent enough to find a bit of truth.

    Mr. Appleman, Nice! Best wishes to you and your wife.

    Thanks again Bill.

  • Billandjudith

    You’re welcome.

  • Hansonbj

    What would we do without Bill Moyers finding real thinking and giving us reason to reflect on who we are alone and together?

  • Keystone

    This program just ended in Erie, PA.  I sat spellbound, but not for the reason you suspect.

    The camera occasionally panned in on words being read, and I was grateful. The author appeared to be at peace.  As a firm believer in the Bible and all its truths, I found his piece embedded in his love.  God is love and the poet has found God in this life…LOVE.

    I tried to watch Moyers.
    I tried to watch his guest.
    But my deafness precluded looking at many shows, and concentrating on the Closed Caption to determine what is being said.

    Fortunately, the transcript is here for me to re-read and savor.
    I need food for my soul, and the love expressed in poems, the background story to such poems as “Summer Love and Surf” aided me in my journey of life.

    My brother and I met yesterday for the first time in years.  He is disabled and hands knarled in such a way as to be useless at 50.  He is disabled forever and the pain makes him walk away as he talks.

    For a disabled deaf guy who reads lips, communication then became as if we were on different planets.
    Then came the next poem read on pain, knarled hands, and I shed a tear for Joe, my brother in pain.

    Silence can be dealt with.  Pain is another matter.

    I always watch Moyers as the man who gave us the Daisy Ad, electing Lyndon Johnson with one showing the closeup eyes of a young girl, in an exploding countdown to an atomic blast within her eyes.

    I queried my soul how a man of the Bible could do this, even for a better cause.

    The dichotomy allows me to view atheists reading poems on a hot Saturday eve in my living room, understand the third party angst of Eve expressing her love, desires, wants, in the words of the poet.

    Polarity grips the land.
    Cut a magnet of 12 inches in half, and the polarity remains, but only in 6 inch intervals for TWO magnets.
    Cut those again and polarity is created on both ends of FOUR magnets.

    Some can view this as multiplying divisions and polarity, the more you halve the magnets.

    Others will proclaim each magnet is closer, as it is diminished in size, thus polarity is diminished.

    We have cut the magnet of God into 7 billion folks in his image; yet the polarity is there in all of us still.

    I walked away at Citizens United report in disgust.
    So too with Bank of America greed and Wall Street owning the Declaration  founding the nation in ideals gone awry.

    But I came back for the poetry and read it all 
    (Closed Captioned)……
    in awe.

    Thank you Bill for doing what you do best.
    You demagnetize us so we can become as one again.
    I also miss your gentle voice.
    But my hands are yet to be knarled.
    Blessings to you for looking up these stories and presenting them for all of us to become better people.

  • NLB

    Watching Phillip Appleman got me inspired in poetry again.  I like the way his mind works and his point of view on religion and life.  I write poetry myself, but don’t know how to get it published.  Wish there were more modern time poets around today…once it was an honorable profession.

  • Tisaparadox

    Your show brings me to tears, and laughter, and gives me that most dangerous of all gifts: hope. Thank you for that.

  • Treis49

    Thank you for introducing me to Mr. Applemann. As someone new to the appreciation of poetry his clearity of meaning to me was moving.

  • Maria-Louise Stracke

    Thank you, Bill moyers for introducing us to Philip Appleman.
    We did not know of him – we are in our 80’s and live in a senior residence with Lisel Mueller (Pulitzer prize winner) also in her 80’s.

  • Shirley

    I was mesmerized during this reading and conversation with Mr. Appleman. Thanks again for providing reason and beauty. 

  • Anonymous

    Can anyone share with me the title of the essay that Messrs. Moyer and Appleman referenced?  Mr.  Moyer said it was about actions bringing meaning to life.  thank you.

  • Phil Hostetter

     I’m not big on poetry, but at age 66, maybe I’m starting to get it . . . .

  • shirley

    I loved his poetry. I have RA and I so much want a copy of the poem he wrote for his mother, “Gertrude”. How can one get that via email or right here online?
    Thanks Mister Appleman. You were delightful to see and hear on Moyers.

  • Lois Thompson

    One of the most delightful, insightful poets to grace your program, Bill.  Thank you for introducing me to Mr. Appleman and his loving, spiritual connections to all life.  I can only guesstimate the beauty he has brought to all of through his humanistic talents.

  • Lewis Turco

    Simply a terrific show! I have never watched a better poetry interview. Phil Appleman’s work is terrific — so say I and all my family who watched it today.

  • Iktroy

    This is related to the labor topic, but more to this show’s topic.
    union buddies haven’t figured out how outsource all evil to the successful
    & rich lumped as 1 under the moniker ‘1%’. Your ‘poet cynic-ate’ seems
    to say ‘claim godhood… don’t let the absurdity shatter the illusion
    as shallow flip-flops of snippets from the Word of God fill one’s mind – an
    overwhelming obstacle to true wisdom & hardening of the fool’s
    attitude (there is no God, I can do whatever I find pleasing)’. Calling such a poem
    one of your favorites at long last settled for me that the harm of
    your errors is intended. Fortunately there is still much good in your work.  I am sad. I love you. You have a good heart.


    The rich
    have great & unmet responsibility, as do all. Unions
    have balanced the power market (+&-) to good & to bad.
    Mocking & deceiving about the One God who is our only hope, who loves us – is a very poor career choice. Searching for truth is searching for God. The message
    of the Word of God is not disease & death but reconciliation
    & resurrection. Most people won’t test the miracles & claims of
    Christianity. The root of our founding documents – inalienable rights are
    alienated by you, me & humans repeatedly all day long. They are inalienable
    because they are reasserted throughout creation & time by the
    Creator. Thanks be to God!

  • Joanne Dickson

     beautiful ! I had not heard of th this poet before. He touched my heart and my mind. Thank you.

  • alice

    Thank you for your impassioned statement on Citizen’s United, and how the resulting super pacs are damaging our democracy; thank you for a consistently honest, intelligent, fearless program with intelligent guests and lack of ranting.  And especially, thank you for introducing me to Philip Appleman and his wonderful poetry – sensitive, romantic in a good sense, wise and witty.  Unafraid to stand up for his “godless” humanism!  I will be adding his books to my library.

  • Helen & Paul Canin

    We just watched Bill Moyers, program ( July 8,2012) and thoroughly enjoyed being introduced to Philip Appleman.  We loved hearing his poetry and listening to his comments on what is so meaningful in his life. Thank you Mr. Moyers for continuing to bring such wonderful guests into our home.

    You continue to be an inspiration to us. You give us hope that there  is still a chance that democracy will work and the environment can be saved. We look forward each week to your program, so please keep up the good work! We need you more than ever….

     Helen & Paul Canin,  Berkeley, Ca.


  • Ninjascottsf

    I think it’s the essay linked above on this page : The Labyrinth: God, Darwin and the Meaning of Life

  • Billandjudith

    And I need you — to be reminded of the kindred spirits for whom I do this work.  You buoy me to keep at it. Thanks, Helen and Paul.  Bill

  • Keystone

    Because I am deaf, I must read Closed Caption on the entire show.  I went online for more detail on what I missed.  I found it, and more.

    I think the link I give will help you.
    At the TOP left of the page, it says “Full Transcript”.
    Click that, and whatever they said together is in full print, to read at your ease.

    Bookmark the whole page and savor as I have done, over and over.

    On the right side of the page is the Top Five Most viewed stories in the show Poetry takes 4th AND 5th place).
    Click on those links (or another parts of the show, within this page.

    God be with you always, Ms. BlondBrainTrust!

    The link to what you seek is here:

    Note: Links do not always work on the Disqus format of comments, so just go to the top of this comment page and Voila!  You are there.

    “Full Transcript” appears with a click on that word and  is on the upper left TOP.  

    Click it and the beauty you heard, …..and I read, is available to all of us over and over.

    Blessings to all.

  • John Henrick

    When two distinguished poets with distinctly different attitudes write poems with identical titles, making comparisons and contrasts can be rewarding.
    Try it with “God’s Grandeur”, one by Philip Appleman, the other by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Here’s a link to the latter:

  • Jacky Skeen

    I think I met my intellectual soulmate in Mr. Appleman…  Thank you Mr. Moyers for introducing me to such facinating people & topics…  I will be buying some books today… 

    Thanks again ~ JRS

  • Ed Brown

    Thanks for bringing us Philip Appleman. He is a fine example of the millions of good people who are atheists, not all of whom dare to let their true status be known, let alone possess the talent to express their opinions through poetic wit.

  • Ismat Ullah Nawabi MD


    “Lord why have you forsaken me”

    As a Muslim I say if one had
    listened carefully he would have heard “Billions will revere you. Millions will
    love their neighbors not only across the street but across the oceans and practice



    And if one had listened carefully on
    would have heard “Because of you Millions with sicknesses will tolerate the
    ravages of healing (Chemotherapy etc.) and that which they cannot  change they will accept gracefully.

    Ismat U.Nawabi MD

  • Leona VanMater

    I would love a copy of the poem “Gertrude”, also.  My mom died from RA and I also have it.

  • Bryan Atneosen

    Hi Phil!  Check out this poem (Jimmy Stewart , Johnny Carson) on YOUTUBE.  

  • Bill S.

    Does anyone have an answer for BlondeBrain Trust – What is name of essay Mr Moyers spoke so highly of ? “The Labyrinth:. . . . ” ??  What a show. What expression of such penetrating thoughts.

  • Seth Thompson

    I’m deeply encouraged to find voices in media still committed to the most significant and perennial of questions.  It’s rare to find people, much less news and commentary outlets, openly and unabashedly examining the meaning of life and what the good life entails.  Living within an intellectual atmosphere that stresses the relativism of belief systems, many people and media outlets avoid ruminating over such profound and philosophical considerations.  Perhaps the idea hinges on a strict demarcation between facts and values: facts should be the purview of the media; values should be sorted out individually.

    Still, even if relativism (cultural or subjective) holds, that doesn’t render the questions irrelevant, and I’m so glad that Bill Moyers takes the time to include poets, authors, public servants, philosophers, scientists, religious figures, and whoever else can speak to these issues.  Even if these questions ultimately can find no objective grounding, I still believe that the more practiced we are at openly confronting these issues, the more rich with possibility our own perspectives on the meaning of life will be.  In addition, I feel that a lifestyle of philosophical examination can incline someone to be more open to perspectives and outlooks that are different than her own.As for Philip Appleman, what a great way to start my morning.  I’m stunned by his treatment of love in his poetry, and the role that he attributes to love in his life.  I think I’ll pick up SUMMER LOVE AND SURF.  Sounds like an appropriate July read.

    Thanks Bill Moyer!  Keep the conversation going!

  • Jmcaptain

    It is The Labyrnith God, Darwin, and the Meaning of Life — it can be found here —

  • Joan and Ralph

    We watched you from a Lake Michigan cottage not far from one you used long ago.  It was exciting for us. 

  • Afranco994

    Listening to you recite your poems was a lovable feast — each one soaked in wit — with an indelible message, especially the ones dedicated to the women in your life; Margie and Mom. I only hope you are aware how happy we were at the opportunity of sharing you with the country. After all many of us are proud to have met — and “feature” you — as a friend and neighbor.

    I only hope you are aware how happy we were at the opportunity of sharing you with the country. After all many of us are proud to have met — and “feature” you — as a friend and neighbor.

  • Phil Appleman

    Dear Joan and Ralph,
    Glad you liked the program.
    Would you please send me your e-address so
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  • guest

    I’m sorry I missed this show.  My 84 year old mum called to tell me how Mr Appleton’s poetry moved her and filled her with a feeling of love, joy and peacefulness.   She insisted I look him up on one of those “dotcom places on your computer”.    Mum is dealing with a husband with dementia so thank you for bringing some sunshine into her life.

  • Sonya S.

    What a treat to listen to Dr. Appleman read some of his
    poems….especially to hear what inspired him to write each one.  It was clearly a dedication of love, not only to his beautiful wife, Margie and his mother, Gertrude, but to all of us.  He is a sensible and sensitive observer of
    mankind.  I don’t know how poet laureates are selected, but such a gentle man of peace would seem the ideal candidate.

  • Pesamt

    I couldn’t agree with you more Sonya S.; well put!

  • Kathleen

    Dear Bill and Phil; I really enjoyed your show today, heard it 7/11 in Montana on NPR.  I am using my phone book to call a local book store in Helena to order some of Philip Appleman’s poetry and essays, and novels- if I’m lucky.  Mr. Appleman, your poetry moved me to relative tears and joy….you are a splendid humanist.

  • Arlene

    Phillip Appleman touched my heart,soul, spirit and mind with his profound poetry and gentle touch. Thank you Mr. Moyers for coming back into our living rooms with your exceptional guests.

  • Deanna

    You can read the poem, Gertrude,  at the American Humanist Association’s website,

  • Deanna

    You can read the poem, Gertrude,  at the American Humanist Association’s website,

  • Deanna

    Dear Mr. Moyers, Thank you so much for introducing me to the man, Philip Appleman, and his poetry.  I in turn have now introduced him to my family and friends.  I just checked and his current book is now on back order.  So, obviously, there are others like me who have been moved by his words. 

  • Dverdicchio

    Oh! Thank you Bill Moyers for introducing Phillip Appleman!

  • Ptremblay

    one of the best interviews i have ever seen 

  • Jorge

    Thank you for introducing me to Philip Appleman and his poetry. I felt such calm and peacefulness while listening to the interview. A question. What is the name of the essay by MR. Appleman that “…had a profound effect on you…”?

  • Charlotte

    Thank you, Bill and Mr. Appleman. You both are in words and deeds what so many Americans desperately want: truth in telling the stories that deeply impact our lives. You give us accurate information (good and bad), intelligent/sensible paths to action, and hope. Hope that we human beings can and will fix (much hard work) the messes that we create for ourselves and communities. Bill, you have an uncanny talent for finding thoughtful people of courage and perseverance . My abiding thanks.

  • Michael

    Can you please tell me the title of the Essay that had the ‘profound effect’ on your life? I don’t think the title was mentioned.

  • kenegbert3rd

    Although much of Appelman’s work shown here makes me recall Salman Rushdie’s comment that ‘no one is more obsessed with God than an atheist,’ he is witty and well spoken, and deserves a larger audience. As usual, Mr. Moyers is pleased to provide same. It’s a little bit too ‘of the moment’ to say so, possibly, but in hindsight I’m reminded of a heated argument between a pagan philosopher and a 4th century Christian churchman in (and here’s the overpertinence) the late Gore Vidal’s novel JULIAN. Vidal to his credit took the side of neither character (and he could have done); no, they verbally dueled to a standstill. Sounds like things don’t change year to year as much as we think! I believe that Appelman exhibits a similar positive spirit, a few of his opinions (with which I do not entirely agree) aside, and because he celebrates the things we all can comprehend, he should be more widely read. As usual, good one, Mr. Moyers.

  • C Dan

    I have enjoyed Appleman’s poems through Freethought Today, FFRF’s monthly newspaper, and am pleased to see him in person, sort of.

  • Anonymous

    I was deeply touched and moved by Mr. Appleman’s poetry and, even moreso, his expressions of love and devotion to his beloved wife of 62 years. I’m 52 and was raised by man who considered being a secular atheist to be the equivalent of satan, and all my reading, traveling and writing has lead me to precisely that place. I am so grateful to Bill Moyers for introducing me to artists such as Mr. Appleman. I love poetry, and have written a bit myself. Thank you Mr. Appleman for inspiring me to resume.