Mar. 23, 1998

Ode to Intimations of Immortality

by William Wordsworth


Today's Reading: "Ode to Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth.

It's the birthday of AKIRA KUROSAWA, the Japanese film director, born in Tokyo in 1910. He started off as a painter and illustrator before writing his first screenplays in the 30s. His Rashomon, from 1950, was the first Japanese film to make it big in the West, winning the 1951 Venice Film Festival grand prize. He followed that up in 1954 with another popular film, The Seven Samurai.

It was on this date in 1743 that HANDEL'S Messiah was performed for George II in London. At the "Hallelujah Chorus" George rose to his feet. Since he was the King, everybody else in the hall stood too, which is what people still do to this day.

THE STAMP ACT went into effect on this day in 1765, Britain's attempt to raise money from the American colonists which led to the Revolutionary War. A couple years earlier, Britain had won the French and Indian War, and it needed more money to defend the new territories it had gotten during the war. Under the Stamp Act, practically anything printed in the colonies got taxed, from newspapers and pamphlets to legal and business papers, even dice! Colonists held stamp burnings, riots, and simply refused to buy the stamps. A year later the Act was repealed but the whole thing helped unite the colonists against British rule.

Ten years later on this day, in 1775, PATRICK HENRY stood up before the Virginia Assembly and gave his most famous speech: war with Britain was inevitable, he said, and the colonists should arm themselves. He went on, "There is no retreat but in submission to slavery. Our chains are already forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston. Is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"

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
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »