Dec. 31, 1998

Morning Harvest (Third Stanza)

by Gerald Stern


Poem: Third stanza from "Morning Harvest," by Gerald Stern, from LEAVING ANOTHER KINGDOM (Harper & Row, 1990).

Itís the birthday of the English ethnographer SIR JOHN THOMPSON, born in 1898 in London, who devoted himself to the study of the Mayan people and culture of southern Mexico. He was the first to decipher early Mayan hieroglyphs and the first to document that present-day Mexican Indians still adhere to ancient ancestral customs.

Itís the birthday of GEORGE C. MARSHALL, born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1880, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff during World War II and later Secretary of State. He was the author of the Marshall Plan to aid economic recovery in Europe after World War II. The plan was provided over $13 billion over four years to participating countries.

Itís the birthday of French painter HENRI MATISSE, born in Le Cateau, Picardy, in 1869. His parents were in the grain business, and he did not show an interest in art until about the age of 20. He worked in a law office but started a drawing class in the early mornings. He became the leader of a group of painters at the turn of the century known as "Les Fauves"—the "wild beasts"—for their use of pure vivid color.

Itís the birthday of the French writer MARIE DE FLAVIGNY, born in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1805, known for her literary salon in Paris in the early 19th century and for her liaison with the composer Franz Liszt. She wrote a number of novels and historical works under the pen name of Daniel Stern.

Itís the birthday of the British general CHARLES CORNWALLIS, born in 1738 in London, known as the commander of the British troops defeated at the battle of Yorktown during the Revolutionary War.

Itís the birthday of BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE—Prince Charles Stuart—born in 1720 in Rome, the last of the Stuarts to claim the British throne. In 1745 he and seven men landed in the Hebrides and started a Scottish rebellion. It was successful at first and he captured Edinburgh, but his invasion of England later that year was ill-planned and he was defeated at the battle of Culloden in Inverness. He managed to escape by disguising himself as the maid of a local woman, Flora McDonald.

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