Wednesday

Jul. 28, 1999

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

by William Butler Yeats

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: July 28, 1999

Poem: "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death," by W.B. Yeats, from Selected Poems and Four Plays (Scribner Paperback Poetry).

It's the birthday in Essex, England, 1844 of the poet and priest GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS, who as a young man loved to write poetry, but forsook it all when he joined the Roman Catholic church to become a priest. He said "it does not belong to my profession." But he continued making notes in his journals, and after a few years one of the priests under whom he studied encouraged him to try poetry again. "God's Grandeur" was written shortly afterward, and begins: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed..." Almost none of Hopkins' poetry saw the light of day during his life. He died of typhus at the age of forty-four, and only about twenty years later did his work begin to get published.

It's the birthday in 1902, Oak Park, Illinois, of poet and novelist KENNETH FEARING, best known for his free verse that usually incorporated newspaper and advertising jargon.

It was on this day in 1914 that AUSTRIA DECLARED WAR ON SERBIA, marking the beginning of World War I. Exactly one month earlier, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo. The war eventually pitted Austria, Germany, and Turkey against France, Britain, Russia, and then the U.S.

It's the birthday in Rochester, New York, 1927, of poet JOHN ASHBERY, whose 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, won the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize

On July 28, 1932, about 15,000 protesters known as the BONUS ARMY gathered in the nation's capital demanding immediate payment of benefits for their W.W.I military service. They'd come from all across the country with their families and camped out along the Anacostia River. This was during the Great Depression, and the veterans wanted early lump-sum payment of pension funds which Congress approved in 1924, but were not due to be paid until 1945. The Bonus Army remained orderly until Congress voted against granting the early benefits. Most of the protesters left, but about 5000 stayed and began rioting. President Herbert Hoover called in the army, which used tear gas and tanks to break up the riots.

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 »