May 22, 2001


by Raymond Carver

TUESDAY, 22 MAY 2001
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Poem: "Happiness," by Raymond Carver, from All of Us: The Collected Poems (Alfred A. Kopf).


So early it's still almost dark out.
I'm near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.
When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.
They wear caps and sweaters
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren't saying anything, these boys.
I think if they could, they would take
each other's arm.
It's early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.
They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.
Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn't enter into this.
Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

On this day in 1967, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood had its television premiere. It starred Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister.

It's the birthday of Garry Wills, born in Atlanta (1934). He's the author of over two-dozen books dealing with subjects as diverse as race relations in America and the Catholic Church. His most recent book is Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (2000). Among his best-known books is Nixon Agonistes (1970) in which he made a case that Richard Nixon was, in fact, a liberal.

It's the birthday of children's author and illustrator Arnold Lobel, born in Los Angeles (1933). He died young, of a heart attack, at the age of 54, but he illustrated over 100 books, including the children's classic Frog and Toad Are Friends (1970).

It's the birthday of Peter Matthiessen, born in New York City (1927). He's the author of many books, including At Play in the Fields of the Lord (1965); two volumes of a projected trilogy of novels placed in the Florida Everglades; and the non-fiction titles The Snow Leopard (1978) and Shadows of Africa (1992).

It's the birthday of actor and director Sir Laurence Olivier, born in Surrey, England (1907). His father was a strict Anglican clergyman, but when he saw that the boy had talent, he made him stay in England and study to become an actor. Olivier made his stage debut playing Brutus at a choir school in London. Actress Sybil Thorndike, who was in the audience, later recalled that Olivier had been on stage for only five minutes when she turned to he husband and said, "But this is an actor."

It's the birthday of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, born at Picardy Place in Edinburgh, Scotland (1859). He's best known for the celebrated series of books featuring the hawk-eyed amateur detective Holmes and his friend and foil Dr. Watson (although the phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson" does not, in fact, appear in any of his Sherlock Holmes books). The first Sherlock Holmes title was A Study in Scarlet (1887).

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