May 9, 1998

Root Cellar

by Theodore Roethke

Death Be Not Proud

by John Donne


Today's Reading: " Death Be Not Proud" by John Donne. "Root Celler" by Theodore Roethke from THE COLLECTED POEMS OF THEODORE ROETHKE, published by Doubleday.

It's the birthday in 1921, Waterloo, Iowa of MONA VAN DUYN, author of nine books of poems including Near Changes (1990), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. She studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop during the 1940s, and taught English at Washington University in St. Louis until 1967. She was named the nation's Poet Laureate in 1992.

It's the birthday in Newbury, England, 1920, of RICHARD ADAMS, author of the 1972 fantasy, Watership Down, about a group of rabbits shoved out of their homes by a suburban development who have to do battle with the authoritarian rabbit, General Woundwort, to settle in their new home.

It's the birthday in West Haven, Connecticut, 1906, of children's author ELEANOR ESTES. During WWII she came out with a series of three very popular little books about the Moffat family, The Moffats, The Middle Moffats, and Rufus M. Sylvie. She followed these up with about a dozen other children's books, including The Hundred Dresses (1944) and Ginger Pye (1951).

It's the birthday in Angus, Scotland, 1860, of JAMES BARRIE, author of a number of books and plays around the turn of the century, the best known of which is Peter Pan, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. He made up the story of Peter and the seedy Captain Hook for the children of his mistress.

The abolitionist JOHN BROWN was born on this day in Torrington, Connecticut, 1800. In the spring of 1858, Brown called an abolitionist's meeting in Canada and announced his plan to establish a military stronghold in the hills of Maryland and Virginia -- a place slaves could escape to. In the summer of 1859 he rented a farmhouse in Maryland, across the Potomac from the federal armory at Harper's Ferry. On October 16 he raided the armory, took hostages, and held out for two days waiting for what he expected would be a huge body of slaves to join his movement. None came, and Marines under Robert E. Lee forced him out and he was tried for treason and hanged.

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