Sunday

Nov. 28, 1999

Come, O Come, My Life's Delight

by Thomas Campion

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: November 28, 1999

Poem: "Come, O Come, My Lifes Delight" by Thomas Campion.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the Sunday nearest on the calendar to St. Andrew's day.

Today is the birthday of physicist Russel Alan Hulse [hullss], born in New York City (1950)—who shared the 1993 Nobel Prize for Physics with his former teacher, astro-physicist John H. Taylor, for their discovery of the first binary pulsar. (A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star that emits rapid, regular bursts of radio waves.) Their pulsar also provided the first means of detecting and measuring gravity waves—and was the first confirmation of gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity (1916).

It s the birthday of novelist Rita Mae Brown, born in Hanover, Pennsylvania (1944). Her novels include Rubyfruit Jungle (1973), Plain Brown Rapper (1976), and High Hearts (1986).

On this day in 1925, the forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry opened in Nashville, Tennessee. Called the WSM Barn Dance, the hour-long show featured groups with names like the Possum Hunters, Gulley Jumpers, Fruit Jar Drinkers and Dixieliners. They were mostly pickers and fiddlers; Uncle Dave Macon, a 5-string banjo player, did the singing—such standards as "Rock About My Sara Jane" and "Bully of the Town." Within a year the show was renamed The Grand Ole Opry. Outgrowing its small studio space, it moved first to Nashville s Hillsboro Theater, then to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville—and finally, in 1943, to the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, where it remained until 1974, when it moved to Opryland on the east side of town.

It s the birthday of Italian novelist Alberto Moravia [al-BAIR-to mo-RAHV-yuh] (original name Alberto Pincherle [pin-CARE-lay]), born in Rome (1907). At 8 he caught tuberculosis of the leg bones, a crippling disease that was eventually cured but left him with a bad limp and kept him out of school, bedridden, during much of his childhood. He began his first novel while recovering in a sanatarium. His titles include The Conformist (1951), Conjugal Love (1951), and Two Women (1958).

It s the birthday of Socialist philosopher Friedrich Engels, born in Barmen, Prussia (1820). From his early twenties he lived mostly in England; in 1844 he met Karl Marx, with whom he collaborated on the Communist Manifesto (1848).

It s the birthday of mystic poet William Blake, born in London (1757), where he lived his entire life. Apprenticed young, he painted watercolors and made engravings for magazines, and at 25 published his first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches (1783), followed by Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794). Of his many prints and engravings, the finest are his 21 Illustrations to the Book of Job (1826), completed when he was nearly 70. With the help of his wife Catherine, he printed his etching plates on his own press—using colored ink he made himself—then watercolored the printed pages and stitched them into paper covers. Lines of text alternated with images of graceful youths and brooding tyrants amid arching trees, trailing vines and swirling flames, giving a full, colorful expression to his vision. Ignored by the public of his day, he was often called mad. He lived on the edge of poverty and died in neglect.

On this day in 1582, after paying a bond of 40 pounds, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were issued their marriage license in Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare was 18; Anne Hathaway was 26; their daughter Susanna was born 6 months later.

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 »