May 19, 2001

Holy Thursday

by William Blake

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Poem: "Holy Thursday," by William Blake.

Holy Thursday

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two & two, in red & blue & green,
Grey-headed beadles walked before with wands as white as
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames waters flow.

O what a multitude they seemed, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
thousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to Heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.

It's the birthday of director and screenwriter Nora Ephron, born in New York City (1941). She's the author of the screenplays for When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and You've Got Mail (1998).

It's the birthday of British novelist and playwright David Pownall, born in Liverpool, England (1938). He's best known for his novels set in Africa: The Raining Tree War (1974), African Horse (1975), and Beloved Latitudes (1981), and for his play, Master Class (1984).

It's the birthday of journalist and novelist James Lehrer, born in Wichita, Kansas (1934), co-anchor of the evening news on PBS. He's the author of We Were Dreamers (1975), about his family's efforts to maintain a city bus service. He has also written novels and plays.

It's the birthday of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, born in Chicago (1930). She's the author of the play A Raisin in the Sun, a big hit in 1959.

On this date in 1928, the first annual Frog Jumping Contest was held in Angel's Camp, Calaveras County, California, in honor of Mark Twain's first published short story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865).

It's the birthday of Margaret Junkin Preson, born in Milton, Pennsylvania (1820). Her family moved to Lexington, Virginia, where she married a military man named John Preston in 1857. Though most of her family was back in Pennsylvania, and her brother served in the Union army, she remained faithful to her husband, and to the Confederacy. Beechenbrook: A Rhyme of the War (1865) depicts the suffering and heroism of a Southern wife whose husband dies while fighting for the Confederacy.

It's the birthday of Johns Hopkins, born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland (1795). He made his money in the wholesale grocery business, and by investing in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad &150; he was the largest individual stockholder. In 1867 he wrote his will to divide $7 million equally between a hospital and a university. Johns Hopkins University opened in 1876; Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1889.

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