Jun. 4, 2001

Sonnet 104: To me, fair friend, you never can be old

by William Shakespeare

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Poem: Sonnet 263, "To me, fair friend, you never can be old," by William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 263

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still: Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived.
    For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
    Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead.

It is an important day in history, because it was on this day in 1896 that Henry Ford, who was then 32 years old, started up his horseless carriage, before dawn. He didn't call it a car, he called it a quadricycle, and he wheeled it out of his Detroit garage, fired it up, and drove it through the back streets. It was the first successful test-run of an automobile.

It's the anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, in 1989. After the death of the former party chairman, the reformer Hu Yaobang, in that spring, students took to the streets calling for democratic reforms, and about 100,000 gathered in Tiananmen Square defying a government ban on protests. Early on the morning of June 4, while it was still dark and most of the protesters were sleeping, tanks wheeled into the square and opened fire. The Chinese government has maintained there were no casualties; other estimates range as high as 2,600 people.

On this day, there are three anniversaries, in World War II:

The Evacuation of Dunkirk occurred on this day in 1940, when British boats of all kinds—yachts, fishing boats, and rowboats—made their way across the English Channel and in nine days saved over 300,000 soldiers from the German army which had them backed into a corner.

In 1942, the tide turned in the Pacific war when the U.S. navy won the Battle of Midway.

And on this day in 1944, Rome was liberated.

It was on this day in 1940 that Carson McCullers' first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, was published. The story, set in a Georgia mill town during the 1930s, describes the life of John Singer, a loner, and the misfits who come to his room to confide in him. McCullers was only 23 at the time.

It was on this day in 1919 that Congress approved the 19th Amendment and then sent it to the states for ratification. The amendment granted women the right to vote.

The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded on this day in 1917: The prize for journalism went to Herbert B. Swope of the New York World, who said, "I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula of failure—which is to try to please everybody."

It's the birthday of Henry Crosby, born in Boston in 1898, who moved to Paris after World War I and opened up a press called The Black Sun Press, one of the first to publish works by authors such as Archibald MacLeish, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce.

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