Saturday

Sep. 30, 2000

Lunar Landscapes

by W. S. Merwin

Broadcast date: SATURDAY, 30 September 2000

Poem:
"Lunar Landscape," by W. S. Merwin, from Travels (Alfred A. Knopf).

It's the Feast Day of St. Jerome, the patron saint of scholars and librarians. Jerome was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius in the year 347. After a dream in which he was rebuked by a divine judge, he resolved to devote himself to the study of scripture, fled into the desert, and began learning Hebrew. His Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate, was completed in 385, and was adopted by the Catholic church as its authorized text in 1546.

It's the birthday of poet, translator, and environmental activist W.S. (William Stanley) Merwin, born in New York City (1927). After graduating from Princeton, he lived for a year on the Spanish island of Majorca, where he tutored the son of poet Robert Graves. His first book of poems, A Mask for Janus, was published in 1952; a later collection, The Carrier of Ladders, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971. He has translated Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish poetry, as well as Dante's Purgatorio.

It's the birthday of the British composer and pianist Donald Swann, born in Wales (1923).

It's the birthday of the Scots novelist and mystery writer Michael Innes, the pseudonym of J.I.M. (John Innes Mackintosh) Stewart, born in Edinburgh (1906). He wrote numerous novels and stories under his own name, but is best known for the mysteries and broadcast scripts written under his pseudonym, many of them featuring John Appleby, the gentleman detective.

It's the birthday of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., born in Philadelphia (1861). He moved to Chicago and began selling baking powder, offering chewing gum as a premium, and decided to concentrate on the gum when it proved to be more popular than the baking powder. He founded the Wrigley's manufacturing company, and, for many years, Wrigley's Spearmint Gum was one of the most heavily advertised products in the United States. Wrigley's headquarters building in Chicago is one of that city's architectural landmarks.

On this date in 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's last opera, The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), was given its premiere in Vienna, with the composer conducting. Mozart had put the finishing touches on the score just two days earlier. The piece, written with librettist Emanuel Schikaneder, drew large crowds. But Mozart was ill. A friend wrote that "he was pale and his expression was sad." His melancholy deepened in the weeks following the premiere, and he grew weaker. In mid-November, he grew gravely ill, and he died on December 5.

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 Sharon Olds 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 »