Jan. 5, 2001

The Sixth of January

by David Budbill

The Song of Wandering Aengus

by William Butler Yeats

Broadcast date: FRIDAY, 5 January 2001

Poems: "The Song of Wandering Aengus," by William Butler Yeats; and "The Sixth of January," by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse (Copper Canyon Press).

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire aflame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

Through I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dangled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

The Sixth of January

The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking
out the window through the softly falling snow
at the last bit of gray light.

I can't say the sun is going down.
We haven't seen the sun for two months.
Who cares?

I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness.
The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea
coming out of the pot and into the cup.

How can this be?
Such calm, such peace, such solitude
in this world of woe.

On this day in 1643, the first divorce recorded in the American colonies was finalized. Anne Clarke, of the Massachusetts Bay colony, had petitioned for divorce from her husband, Dennis Clarke. Mr. Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife and two children for another woman, and confirmed that he would not return to the marriage. The court's record read: "She is garunted to bee divorced."

On this day in 1887, the first United States school of "Librarianship" opened at Columbia University—the beginning of the field of study now called Library Science.

On this day in 1896, German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, the first Nobel Laureate in his field, revolutionized medicine as well as physics by discovering the X-ray.

It's the birthday of American Poet W(illiam) D(eWitt) Snodgrass, born in Wilkinsberg, Pennsylvania (1926), whose first collection of poetry, Heart's Needle, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1959.

It's the birthday of American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, born in Rogers, Texas (1931). Ailey became involved with the Lester Horton Dance Theater while a student at UCLA, and took over as director of that company when he was only 22. In 1958 he formed his own dance company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and established a place for blacks in modern dance. His most renowned work, "Revelations" is based on Negro spirituals.

It's the birthday of Italian author and scholar, Umberto Eco, born in Allessandria, Italy (1932). Eco studied aesthetics and earned his doctorate at the University of Turin (1954). He taught in Florence, Milan, and Bologna and wrote several works of fiction and non-fiction, including his best selling fantasy In the Name of the Rose (1981), which blends mystery, philosophy and history, and questions "truth" from many perspectives. His other works include A Theory of Semiotics (1976) and Foucault's Pendulum (1989).

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