Tuesday

Nov. 3, 1998

Thanatopsis

by William Cullen Bryant

TUESDAY 11/3

Today's Reading: Selected lines from "Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878).

It was on this day in 1948 that the Chicago Tribune headline read "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN." Democrat Harry S. Truman had taken over the presidency after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945, and had run against the Republican governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey. All the opinion polls showed Dewey would be an easy winner, but Truman won by a 114 electoral-vote margin.

It's the birthday of Australian writer Kath Walker in 1920 in Queensland, Australia; she later took an aboriginal name, OODGEROO NOONUCCAL. She was one of the first aboriginal writers to be published.

It's the birthday of journalist JAMES RESTON, one-time executive editor and vice president of The New York Times, born in 1909 in Clydebank, Scotland. His family emigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old, and he broke into journalism as a schoolboy hanging around the Dayton, Ohio, Daily News, answering the telephone and taking down sports scores. He started his professional life at the New York Times in 1939 as a London reporter.

It's the birthday of IGNATIUS DONNELLY'S birthday, the novelist and reformer, born in 1831 in Philadelphia. He wrote science fiction novels in the 1880s and '90s, predicting such things as radio, television, and poison gas.

It's the birthday of poet and journalist WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, born in Cummington, Massachusetts in 1794. He served for 50 years as the editor of the New York Evening Post.

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 »