Jun. 1, 2000

Sea Fever

by John Masefield

Broadcast Date: THURSDAY: June 1, 2000

Poem: "Sea Fever," by John Masefield (1878-1967).

Sgt. Pepperís Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on this day in 1967. It was one of the Beatles' most popular albums. It took over 700 hours to record and cost about $75,000 to produce, an unheard-of amount in those days.

It's the birthday of opera singer Frederica Von Stade, born in Somerville, New Jersey, 1945. When she was 24 she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Three years later, her big break came when she sang the role of Cherubino in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. This character became her signature role.

The first issue of Action Comics was published on this day in 1938, marking the debut of Superman. The writer, Jerry Siegel, had had a dream about the baby Moses, who was abandoned by his parents so his life could be saved. The dream prompted Siegel to write the story of Kal-El, born on the planet Krypton. The baby was rocketed to Earth just before Krypton exploded. Artist Joe Shuster drew the pictures of the baby landing in America and being adopted by the Kent family, who named him Clark.

It's the birthday of popular novelist Colleen McCullough, born in 1937 in Wellington, Australia, who worked as a neuro-physiologist until she wrote The Thorn Birds in 1977.

It's the birthday of the historian and writer Christopher Lasch, born in Omaha, 1932 — author of The Culture of Narcissism (1970), in which he describes Americans as fearful and self-absorbed.

It's the birthday of poet John Masefield, born in Herefordshire, England, 1878. Masefield shipped out as a merchant seaman when he was 16 years old, and on his first trip rounded Cape Horn, his ship was battered for 32 days by waves as high as 40 feet. Later, Masefield wrote: "It was real, naked life. At sea you get the manhood knocked bare." He worked for a time in America, first in a carpet factory, then as a gardener and a bartender, before reading Chaucer, at 17, which drew him to poetry. His first success as a writer came with a long poem about his first sea voyage entitled "Dauber":

"But there's so much to learn, with sails and ropes,
And how the sails look, full or being furled,
And how the lights change in the troughs and slopes,
And how the sea's colours change up and down the world,
And how a storm looks when the sprays are hurled
High as the yard (they say) I want to see;
There's none ashore can teach such things to me."

The U.S. Navy gained its motto on this day in 1813, when, during the War of 1812, the mortally wounded commander of the frigate Chesapeake, Captain James Lawrence, said, "Donít give up the ship!" during a losing battle with a British frigate.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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