Jun. 29, 1998

Death and the Turtle

by May Sarton


Today's Reading: "Death and the Turtle" by May Sarton from COLLECTED POEMS 1930-1993, published by W.W. Norton & Co.

It's the FEAST DAY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, celebrated on the 29th of June every year since 354. Paul: the patron saint of tentmakers and theologians; he's also the patron of ropemakers because of his escape from a Damascus prison using a rope to lower himself to the ground. Peter: the patron of sailors, as well as keymakers, a reference to the passage in the Gospel of Matthew where he was to carry the keys to the heavenly kingdom.

It's the birthday in 1963, Rheinfelden, Germany, of violinist ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER. Neither of her parents played an instrument, but when she was six years old, after one year of lessons, she entered a local contest for instrumentalists aged 6 to 24, and won. She kept entering the contest and by the time she was 10 the judges asked her not to return because she won all the time. She's playing only Beethoven these days: this spring she toured the States performing the 10 Beethoven Violin Sonatas in a series of sold-out recitals.

It's the birthday in Lyon, France, 1900, of the writer and aviator, ANTOINE de SAINT-EXUPERY. He didn't care much for school as a boy, and as soon as he could became a pilot. He pioneered airmail routes across northern Africa, the South Atlantic and South America in the 1920s, surviving several crashes, and, later, writing about his experiences; novels like Southern Mail (1933), Night Flight (1939), and a nonfiction book, Wind, Sand, and Stars (1939). When the Nazis invaded France he settled in the U.S., and wrote his most popular book, The Little Prince, published in 1943, about a pilot who crashes in the Sahara and makes the acquaintance of a little prince from another planet. Saint-Exupery was shot down by the Germans over the Mediterranean in 1944.

It's the birthday in 1861, in the south-central Minnesota town of Le Sueur, of surgeon WILLIAM JAMES MAYO, who founded with his brother, Charles, the Mayo Clinic. The two boys even before they were out of high school were helping their father as anesthetists in his surgeries. William got his medical degree in Michigan, then came back to Rochester in 1883, just after a tornado demolished part of the town. The local convent set up an emergency hospital and asked Mayo for help, and that's how the Mayo Clinic got started.

It was on this day in 1613 that THE GLOBE THEATRE in London burned, the place where nearly all of Shakespeare's plays were premiered. Shakespeare himself was part-owner of the Globe, and an actor in its productions. It was during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII, when the King enters Cardinal Wolsey's palace, that a cannon went off and caught the theater's thatch roof on fire. Within an hour, the whole thing burned to the ground. It was rebuilt within a year, this time with a tiled roof, but that building was pulled down 30 years later when the Puritans closed all theaters. A few years ago a reconstruction of the Globe opened near the original site on the River Thames.

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




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