Feb. 14, 1998


by Robert Herrick

As If a Phantom Caressed Me

by Walt Whitman


Today's Reading: "Loathsomeness" by Robert Herrick and "As If a Phantom Caressed Me" by Walt Whitman.

It's VALENTINE'S DAY, named for the third-century priest who was martyred in Rome, and for the medieval belief that birds choose their mates on this date. The early 17th-century British poet, John Donne, calls to the saint in this poem: "Hail, Bishop Valentine! whose day this is; All the air is thy diocese, And all the chirping choristers And other birds are thy parishioners!"

Today also marks the anniversary of the 1944 Dresden fire bombing C when 2,000 British and U.S. bombers turned one of Germany's most picturesque cities into rubble. Dresden had been considered a "safe" area, a city of 17th- and 18th-century architecture with no industries, and it was filled with refugees at the time

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST opened on this day in London's St. James Theater in 1895. Its subtitle is A Trivial Comedy for Serious People

JACK BENNY was born on this day in Chicago, 1894. He was on network radio from 1932 to 1955, Sunday nights at seven, nearly every week sawing through "Love in Bloom" on his violin, but never finishing the tune

It's the birthday in Portland, Maine, 1877, of electrical engineer GREENLEAF WHITTIER PICKARD who invented the "crystal detector" C a device used in early radios to receive the signal

It's the birthday of the inventor of the typewriter, CHRISTOPHER SHOLES, born in 1819 outside of Mooresburg, Pennsylvania. He got a patent for the typewriter in June, 1868, and five years later sold the rights to the Remington Arms Company

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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