Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Chicago's Friar Tuck

Irwin St. John Tucker (1886-1982)

Irwin St. John Tucker was only an Associate Member of the Palette and Chisel from May, 1961 until his resignation in May, 1962 -- and he hardly has any reputation as a visual artist.

But nevertheless, he was one of our most famous (or notorious ?) members -- having been sentenced in 1918 to 20 years in prison for his anti-war propaganda as Minister of Information for the Socialist Party of America. He had written, among other things, that the First World War was:

"a struggle between Germany's Berlin-to-Bagdad railroad and England's Suez Canal, with no more of idealism in it than a battle of cash registers."

That conviction was soon overturned by the United States Supreme Court -- while St. John Tucker became a different kind of minister: an Episcopalian priest, serving for 11 years as rector of Chicago's St. Stephen's Parish.

A man of many talents, he wrote songs and poetry, was feature-writer and religion editor for the Sunday Herald and Examiner, and published about 10 books, including such titles as:

"A history of imperialism"
Publisher: New York, Rand school of social science , c. 1920

"Out of the hell-box"
Publisher: New York, Morehouse-Gorham c. 1945.

"A Minstrel Friar; his legacy of song" Chicago, Seymour, c. 1949.

... and one book was written about him:

"Chicago's Friar Tuck : a man of all faiths" by James A Shanahan

Here's an example of his poetry:

"Now, O thou young Republic girt with stars,
whose spacious territories hailed us here,
Thou wert God's trust, from hate-recurrent wars
To show the way:how peace may persevere;
How men may be cleansed of hate and greed and fear;
How federated states in one may dwell
Seeking one good through ends of earth brought near.
They words indeed are high; but guard thou well;
By deeds belying words, thy predecessors fell"


Now maids and men, hark well to me,
Sing Aleluya—wellaway!
Full blest shall such a wooing be,
Sing hey, God loves a lover!
For they that meet in chapel cell,
Are wooed and won and wedded well;
Their lives ring sweet like chiming bell,
Forever and forever!

Regarding the visual arts, I can't find anything about his paintings or drawings, but the rectory of his "Poets' and Artists' Church" was known for its walls being lined with paintings, sculpture, and poets' manuscripts.


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