Nov. 23, 2000

The Wild Swans At Coole

by William Butler Yeats

Broadcast date: THURSDAY, 23 November 2000

Poem: “The Wild Swans at Coole,” by William Butler Yeats.

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

Today is Thanksgiving Day, first celebrated by the Pilgrims and ninety Wampanoag Indians at Plymouth, Massachusetts in early December 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first year in the colony. Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday more than 200 years later, in October of 1863. The proclamation, made by President Abraham Lincoln, was the result of a long and untiring campaign by Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the third Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. This was changed to the fourth Thursday in November by a joint proclamation of Congress in 1941.           

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade takes place today along Broadway in New York City. The parade began in the 1920s when employees of the department store marched down Broadway from 145th Street to 34th Street to celebrate the American holiday. Giant helium-filled balloons depicting cartoon characters became a parade tradition in 1927

Another Thanksgiving tradition is football. When the Intercollegiate Football Association was formed in 1876, it set its championship game for Thanksgiving Day. By 1893, football was so firmly a part of Thanksgiving Day holiday, that the New York Herald could complain on its editorial page: “Thanksgiving Day is no longer a solemn festival to God for mercies given.… It is a holiday granted by the State and the Nation to see a game of football.”

On this day in 1903, the Italian tenor Enrico Caruso made his debut in the United States, singing the role of the Duke in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

It’s the birthday of the silent Marx Brother, Adolph Arthur “Harpo” Marx, born in New York City (1888).

On this day in 1874, Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd was first published, by Smith, Elder, and Company in London. The novel, which had earlier been serialized in Cornhill Magazine, was Hardy’s first great success as a novelist.

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




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