Jun. 19, 1999

The farms of home lie lost in even (Poem XIV)

by A. E. Housman

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: June 19, 1999

Poem: "The farms of home lie lost in even" (Poem XIV), by A.E. Housman, from The Collected Poems of A.E. Housman (Henry Holt).

It's the birthday of HARLAN GREENE, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 1953, author of Why We Never Danced the Charleston, (1984), and the novel What the Dead Remember (1991) about a 13-year-old boy growing up in Charleston and learning that he is gay.

It's the birthday of CLARE BELL, the science fiction writer, born in Hertfordshire, England, 1952. Her family moved to the States when she was five years old, and she went to school in California. After years as a test equipment engineer for IBM, she started writing books for young adult readers — best known for her Ratha Series, about a clan of cats set 25 million years ago.

On June 19, 1947, Britain and France invited 22 nations to help design a plan to rebuild Europe after the devastation of World War II. This was in response to a speech, made two weeks earlier at Harvard University by U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, outlining what came to be known as the MARSHALL PLAN. Over the next four years, $13 billion were poured into 16 western European countries, much of it for agriculture, and the chemical, engineering, and steel-producing industries.

It's the birthday in Birmingham, Alabama, 1945, of TOBIAS WOLFF, author of two popular memoirs, This Boy's Life (1989), about growing up in the 1950s in Washington State; and In Pharaoh's Army (1994), about Wolff's stint as an army officer in the Vietnam War. He's also written three collections of short stories.

It's the birthday in Sonoma County, California, 1919, of movie critic PAULINE KAEL, who started off making films in the 1940s, then began reviewing them in the 1950s for a San Francisco magazine called City Lights. In the 1960s she wrote for a number of magazines including McCall's — which fired her when she panned The Sound of Music. She joined the New Yorker in 1968, reviewing movies until she retired in 1991.

THE STATUE OF LIBERTY arrived in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the U.S. The statue was intended to commemorate the centennial, nine years earlier, of the American Declaration of Independence. For the trip to America, the French took the statue apart and packed its 350 pieces into 214 crates. Four months later it was reassembled on its pedestal on Bedloe's Island, which was renamed Liberty Island in 1956.

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 »