Nov. 9, 1998

Pure Desire on a Gloomy Drab Day

by John Tagliabue


Today's Reading: "Pure Desire on a Gloomy Drab Day," by John Tagliabue, from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, published by the University Press of New England.

It's the anniversary of the MUNICH BEER HALL PUTSCH, Adolf Hitler's 1923 attempt to start an insurrection against the Weimar Republic. Hitler and his small Nazi Party forced their way into a right-wing political meeting in a beer hall in Munich on the evening of November 8. The next day the Nazis marched through the center of Munich; police fired on them, and 16 Nazis and 3 policemen were killed. At the trial in a sympathetic Bavarian court, Hitler was given a minimum sentence for treason, five years in prison, but served only eight months, during which he wrote much of his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle).

It was on this day in 1938 that storm-troopers in Germany went through the streets destroying Jewish synagogues and smashing the windows of Jewish stores in a pogrom that came to be known as KRISTALLNACHT (Night of the Broken Glass). Some 20,000 Jews were rounded up and arrested. After Kristallnacht, Jews were required to pay $400 million for damage to their own property.

It's the anniversary of the FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL, 1989. The Wall was just a shade under 28 miles long, and stood for 28 years, dividing East and West Berlin. And on this day in 1989, students climbed on top of the Wall and danced, and started to smash up the wall with sledgehammers.

It's astronomer CARL SAGAN's birthday, born in Brooklyn, 1934, author of several books on the planets and stars, including Atmospheres of Mars and Venus, Planetary Exploration, and the 1985 novel Contact; as well as the producer of the 1980 television series, Cosmos.

It's the birthday in Central City, Colorado, 1871, of scientist and medical researcher FLORENCE RENA SABIN. Around the turn of the century she became well known in the medical world for constructing a model of the human brain, which became a standard textbook in medical schools for many years.

It's the birthday of the newspaper publisher and abolitionist ELIJAH P. LOVEJOY, 1802, editor of St. Louis Observer. He was murdered just two days before his 35th birthday by a mob who had set his press on fire in protest at his anti-slavery editorials.

It's the birthday of poet ANNE SEXTON, born in Newton, Massachusetts, in1928. After the birth of her first daughter in 1953 she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and suffered a nervous breakdown, and another one following the birth of her second daughter. Her psychiatrist encouraged her to write poetry, and she later won the Pulitzer Prize.

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




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