Dec. 30, 2000

501 This World is not Conclusion.

by Emily Dickinson

Broadcast date: SATURDAY, 30 December 2000

Poem: "This World is not Conclusion," by Emily Dickinson.

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond —
Invisible, as Music —
But positive, as Sound —
It beckons, and it baffles —
Philosphy — don't know —
And through a Riddle, at the last —
Sagacity, must go —
To guess it, puzzles scholars —
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown —
Faith slips — and laughs, and rallies —
Blushes, if any see —
Plucks at a twig of Evidence —
And asks a Vane, the way —
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit —
Strong Hallelujahs roll —
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul —

On this day in 1948, Kiss Me, Kate, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, had its premiere at the New Century Theatre in New York City.

It's the birthday of rhythm & blues singer Bo Diddley, born in Magnolia, Mississippi (1928). He played the violin until he was fifteen, but said, "I'll tell you what put the brakes on me. I looked around and didn't see too many black violinists. That's when I grabbed the guitar, 'cause I seen plenty of black guitarists."

It's the birthday of writer, composer and translator Paul Bowles, born in Jamaica, Queens (1910). He dropped out of college and went to Paris, where he met Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau and André Gide. In the late 1940s he went to Morocco, where he wrote his novels The Sheltering Sky (1948) and Let It Come Down (1952).

It's the birthday of Simon Guggenheim, born in Philadelphia (1867), to a wealthy family who'd made their money in mining and smelting. When his first son died following a mastoid operation, he and his wife established the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, which, ever since, has given one-year grants to thousands of artists and scholars, each receiving a free year of study, research, and travel.

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling, born in Bombay (1865), author of The Jungle Book, Kim (1901) and Just So Stories (1902). He married an American woman and lived for 4 years on her property near Brattleboro, Vermont, but was unable to adjust to life to America. He returned to England to become the unofficial poet laureate of imperial Britain.

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till earth and sky stand presently at God's great Judgment seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
 tho' they come from the ends of the earth.

It's the birthday of businessman Asa Griggs Candler, born on a farm near Villa Rica, Georgia (1851). He was a pharmacist, started a wholesale drug business, and, in his mid-twenties, bought the formula that became Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola became one of the biggest corporations in America, and, in 1919, he sold the enterprise for $25 million. A considerable philanthropist, Candler helped finance the move of Emory College, located near Atlanta, into the city, and expanded it to become Emory University.

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 Jeffrey Harrison 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 »