Nov. 15, 1998

What Are Years?

by Marianne Moore

SUNDAY 11/15

Today's Reading: "What Are Years?," by Marianne Moore, from THE COMPLETE POEMS OF MARIANNE MOORE, published by Penguin Books, 1994.

It was on this day in 1806 that Army lieutenant Zebulon Pike sighted the 14,000-foot-high mountain in the Front Range of the southern Rockies that came to be known as PIKE'S PEAK. He tried unsuccessfully to climb it, and it wasn't until 14 years later, 1820, that mountaineer and explorer Stephen Long made it to the top.

It's the birthday of doctor SARA JOSEPHINE BAKER, born in Poughkeepsie, New York, 1873, who pioneered public health and child welfare practices. She spent most of her life in New York City working for the City Health Department, where she fought against the terrible infant mortality rate by championing preventive medicine—opening midwife training schools, introduced public school health classes, and began a number of baby health stations around the city that gave out both milk and advice.

It's the birthday in Chicago, 1881, of newspaper columnist and poet, FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS, better known to millions who read his columns in the 1920s and '30s as F.P.A.

It's the birthday in 1907 of the German army officer CLAUS VON STAUFFENBERG, the man behind the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. He and several top officers, including Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, plotted to assassinate Hitler, but Hitler had gotten wind of several plots and began to change his schedule at the last minute. Stauffenberg tried twice with no success, then on July 20, 1944, he was called into a meeting with Hitler and placed a briefcase bomb under the table. The table was heavy oak and absorbed much of the blast. Stauffenberg was arrested and executed that night.

It's the birthday of poet MARIANNE MOORE, born in St. Louis, 1887, winner of the 1952 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award with her Collected Poems, which came out the year before. Her best known poems are "To a Steam Roller," "The Fish," "When I Buy Pictures," and "Poetry."

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




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