Mar. 20, 2000

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: March 20, 2000

Poem: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," by Robert Frost, from The Poetry of Robert Frost (Holt, Reinhart & Winston).

It's the birthday of Canadian novelist and essayist HUGH MacLENNAN, born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (1907). His first novel, Barometer Rising (1941), is a moral fable that uses, as its background, an actual explosion of a munitions ship that destroyed part of the city of Halifax in 1917. Other novels include Two Solitudes (1945), The Precipice (1948), Return of the Sphinx (1967), and Voices in Time (1980).

It's the birthday of psychologist B(urrhus) F(redric) SKINNER, born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania (1904). Known as the father of "behaviorism," he invented the "Skinner Box," and the "Baby Tender," which was intended to help him and his wife raise their second child, Deborah. This enclosed chamber was a controlled environment twice the size of a bathtub. It had soundproof walls, warm filtered air, and plenty of room for exercise and toys. It was equipped with a system of clean sheeting that could be rolled through to replace 'dirty' linens. He's best known for his books Walden Two (1961) and Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971). He said, "Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten."

Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel UNCLE TOM'S CABIN WAS PUBLISHED on this day in 1852. Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in response to the "Fugitive Slave Act" of 1850. The law required northern citizens to return escaped slaves to their southern owners. The novel sold over 3,000 copies on its first day, and, during the late 1850s, was more widely read than any book except the Bible.

It's the birthday of playwright HENRIK (Johan) IBSEN, born in Skien, a small lumber town in southern Norway (1828). During 27 years of voluntary exile in Rome, Dresden, and Munich he wrote his greatest works: A Doll's House (1879) Peer Gynt (1866-7), Ghosts (1881), The Wild Duck (1884), and The Master-Builder (1892).

It's the birthday of Roman poet OVID (Publius Ovidius Naso), born in what is now Sulmona, Italy (43 B.C.). As a member of the Roman aristocracy, he was expected to lead an official career, and did hold a few minor posts, but soon found public life didn't suit him as well as poetry. He's remembered for his tragedy Medea; his 3 volumes of poetry collectively called The Art of Love; and his 15-book epic poem Metamorphoses. At 51, he was abruptly exiled to the Black Sea outpost of Tomis by Emperor Augustus perhaps due to his affair with the emperor's granddaughter, Julia, who was banished at the same time. The poems he wrote in exile are elegies of despair; he never wrote another love poem.

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