Jul. 9, 2001

The Angel and the Little Old Lady

by Robert Lax

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Poem: "The Angel and the Little Old Lady," by Robert Lax from Fables Fabeln (Pendo).

The Angel and the Little Old Lady

an angel
appeared to
a little old

& said:

would you
like a

for my
said the little
old lady:

that she grow
up to be a
beautiful young

& marry a
nice young

two wishes
said the angel

would you
like another?

whatever other
good thing you
can think of

said the little
old lady

the girl grew up
to be a beautiful
young lady

& married a
nice young man

after a year or
so, a child was
born to them

(the angel's

now the old
lady was
quite a bit

the angel
to her again
& said:

would you
like a

for the
she said:

that he grow
up to be a
young man

& marry
a nice
young girl

two wishes
said the angel

would you
like another?

whatever other
good thing
you can think

said the little
old lady

It's the birthday of the artist David Hockney, born in Bradford, England, in 1937. He grew up in a working-class family and started cartooning in grammar school when he became bored with schoolwork. One of his first works was a portrait of his father, an oil painting that he sold for 10 pounds. He received a gold medal in the graduate competition at the Royal College of Art in London. After frequent visits to the United States, he settled in Los Angeles, where he painted his famous series of swimming pools.

It's the birthday of the poet and novelist June Jordan, born in New York City in 1936. Her most recent book is a memoir titled Soldier: a Poet's Childhood, and she has also written many collections of poems.

It's the birthday of the novelist Barbara Cartland, born in Warwickshire County, England, in 1901, the "queen of the romance novel." She has written at least 700 novels, turning them out at a rate of two 50,000-word novels a month, usually by dictating them to assistants. Reclining on a sofa, a hot water bottle at her feet and her dog dozing by her side, she could dictate 7,000 words in an afternoon. Her books followed a simple, unvarying formula: a chaste, beautiful heroine is pursued by a rich, handsome, rakish man in an exotic locale, sometime in the nineteenth century; they fall in love, overcome obstacles, marry, and only then give free rein to their passions.

It's the birthday of historian Samuel Eliot Morison, born in Boston in 1887. He grew up on Beacon Hill and attended Harvard University, where he would teach for 40 years, and for which he became the official historian. He wrote a number of books about early New England, but his reputation rests on his works of maritime history, including Admiral of the Ocean Sea, a biography of Christopher Columbus, and John Paul Jones, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize, and his 15-volume History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II. He was also the author of The Oxford History of the American People and The European Discovery of America.

It's the birthday of inventor Nikola Tesla, born in Smiljan, Croatia, in 1856, the son of an Eastern Orthodox priest. He discovered the rotating magnetic field, which became the basis of alternating-current machinery, and a coil that would be essential to radio technology. He arrived in America in 1884 with four cents in his pocket, some original poems, and calculations for a flying machine.

It's the birthday of writer Matthew Gregory Lewis, born in London in 1775. He became known as "Monk" Lewis after his overnight success at the age of 19 with a Gothic novel titled The Monk. The Monk combined horror, violence, and eroticism in a way that made it widely condemned, and therefore, quite avidly read.

It's the birthday of the Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, born in London in 1764. She is best known for her novel The Mystery of Udolpho, which is a novel of terror and suspense with sinister castles and wild landscapes, though she herself lived a relatively quiet life.

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