Jan. 21, 2001

Bredon Hill

by A. E. Housman

Broadcast date: SUNDAY, 21 January 2001

Poem: "Bredon Hill," by A.E. Houseman.

Bredon Hill

In summertime on Bredon
    The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
    In steeples far and near,
    A happy noise to hear.

Here of a Sunday morning
    My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
    And here the larks so high
    About us in the sky.

The bells would ring to call her
    In valleys miles away;
'Come all to church, good people;
    Good people come and pray.'
    But here my love would stay.

And I would turn and answer
    Among the springing thyme,
'Oh peal upon our wedding,
    And we will hear the chime,
    And come to church on time.'

But when the snows at Christmas
    On Bredon top were strown,
My love rose up so early
    And stole out unbeknown
    And went to church alone.

They tolled the one bell only,
    Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
    And so to church went she,
    And would not wait for me.

The bells they sound on Bredon,
    And still the steeples hum,
'Come all to church, good people'—
    Oh, noisy bells be dumb;
    I hear you, I will come.

On this day in 1945, after a month of heavy fighting in the Ardennes Forest, the German counter-attack known as the Battle of the Bulge came to an end. The allied troops were completely surprised by the move, which created a triangular bulge in the front, sixty miles deep and fifty miles wide. The soldiers caught in the bulge were mostly American, and they offered heroic resistance, buying time for Field Marshall Montgomery and Generals Omar Bradley and George S. Patton to bring up reinforcements. The Battle of the Bulge was Germany's last major offensive of World War Two. It cost the Third Reich 120,000 men. The Allies lost 81,000 men: killed, wounded or missing in action—all but 4,000 of those who died were American.

On this day in 1924, Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin died in Moscow of a cerebral hemorrhage at age fifty-four.

It's the birthday of explorer and politician John Fremont, born in Savannah, Georgia (1813). He was the first Republican candidate for President.

It's the birthday of Ethan Allen, born in Litchfield, Connecticut (1738), who, after fighting in the French and Indian War, settled in what is now Vermont. He formed the Green Mountain Boys to protect the interests of Vermonters against New York, of which Vermont was a part. When the Revolutionary War broke out, Allen led his Green Mountain Boys into New York, where they captured the British fort at Ticonderoga on May 10, 1775. Allen refused to serve again in the American Army until Congress recognized Vermont's independence from New York. When Congress would not, he began negotiating with Great Britain for the establishment of Vermont as a sovereign nation. He said, "I am resolutely determined to defend the independence of Vermont, and, rather than fail, will retire with the hardy Green Mountain Boys into the desolate caverns of the mountains, and wage war with human nature at large."

On this day in 1793, King Louis the Sixteenth of France was guillotined by the French National Assembly, one day after being convicted of conspiracy with foreign powers. His execution took place at the Place de la Révolution. On the scaffold he said, "I die innocent of all the crimes of which I have been charged. I pardon those who have brought about my death, and I pray that the blood you are about to shed may never be required of France."

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