Jun. 11, 2000

Song: To Celia

by Ben Jonson

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: June 11, 2000

Poem: "Song: To Celia," by Ben Johnson.

Today is Pentecost, the 7th Sunday after Easter. Recognized since the 3rd century, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. As this is a popular date for baptisms, it's also called "Whitsunday" or "White Sunday" for the white garments often worn by babies during the ceremony.

Today is observed in Hawaii as Kamehameha Day, honoring King Kamehameha the Great (1758-1819), who united the Hawaiian Islands into a single kingdom. Between 1785 and 1810, Kamehameha took control of the various Hawaiian islands, organized a government, allowed foreign traders to settle, and ended the practice of human sacrifice.

It's the birthday of novelist Allan Gurganus, born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (1947), author of Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1989).

It's the birthday of playwright and actor (Harold) Athol Fugard, born in Middleburg, Cape Province, South Africa (1932), author of "Master Harold"and the Boys (1982), The Blood Knot (1960), The Drummer (1980), A Place with the Pigs (1987), and The Captain's Tiger (1997).

It's the birthday of novelist William Styron, born in Newport News, Virginia (1925), author of Lie Down in Darkness (1951), The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967Pulitzer Prize), and Sophie's Choice (1979the movie, starring Meryl Streep, came out in 1982), and other books.

It's the birthday of critic Irving Howe, born in New York City's East Bronx (1920). In the 1950s he founded Dissent, a magazine of what he called the "moderate Left." His most widely read book is World of Our Fathers (National Book Award, 1976), a history of Eastern European immigration to America.

It's the birthday of Japanese novelist Yasunari Kawabata, born in Osaka (1899). His best-known novel is Snow Country (1948); others include The Sound of the Mountain (1952) and A Thousand Cranes (1952). Kawabata was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, the first Japanese author so honored.

It's the birthday of poet and dramatist Ben Jonson, born in London (1572). He worked as a bricklayer, served in the army, became a traveling actor, then began writing plays. His first important play was Every Man in his Humour (1598), performed at the Curtain Theatre with William Shakespeare in the cast. He also wrote Volpone (1605) and The Alchemist (1610).

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
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  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
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  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
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