Apr. 13, 2000


by Seamus Heaney

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: April 13, 2000

Poem: "Digging," by Seamus Heaney from Selected Poems 1966-1987 (Noonday Press, Farrar, Strauss, Giroux).

THE MESSIAH by George Frederic Handel, one of the most popular oratorios of all time, was first performed on this date in 1742, in Dublin.

It's the birthday of game inventor ALFRED MOSHER BUTTS, born in Poughkeepsie, New York (1899). Out of work during the Depression, he made up a word-game based on crosswords, and called it SCRABBLE.

It's the birthday of playwright and novelist SAMUEL (Barclay) BECKETT, born in Foxrock, a suburb of Dublin (1906). He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. In spite of his celebrity, he continued to live simply, in a working-class neighborhood of Montparnasse, in an apartment overlooking the exercise yard of the Sante Prison. His plays include Waiting For Godot (1952), Endgame (1957), and Krapp's Last Tape (1959); his novels include Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951), and The Unnamable (1953).

It's the birthday of writer EUDORA WELTY (1909). Studying Latin in High School, she said, let her "see the achieved sentence finally standing there as real, intact, and built to stay as the Mississippi State Capitol at the top of my street, where I could walk through it on my way to school and hear underfoot the echo of its marble floor, and over me the bell of the rotunda." Her best-known stories are "Why I live at the P.O.," and "Death of a Traveling Salesman." Her novels include Delta Wedding (1946), and The Optimist's Daughter (1972Pulitzer Prize).

It's the birthday of poet SEAMUS HEANEY, born to a Catholic family in Castledawn, county Derry, Northern Ireland (1939). His time is split three ways: between Dublin; Boston, where he teaches at Harvard; and Cambridge, where he is Chair of Poetry at Oxford. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

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