Oct. 4, 2001

For Translation into Latin

by Gavin Ewart

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Poem: "For Translation into Latin," by Gavin Ewart from Selected Poems 1933-1988 (New Directions).

For Translation into Latin

The sailors love the beautiful girls.

The wise poets love the sailors.

The girls often love the sailors.

The bad poets love the beautiful girls.

The bad girls love the farmers.

All the poets hate the farmers.

The bad girls hate the good girls.

The good girls love all the sailors.

The bad girls love the bad girls.

The farmers hate all the poets.

The good girls love the bad poets.

The bad poets hate the good poets.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. He was born in Assisi, in central Italy, in 1182. He started out as a wealthy man-about-town, until he fell into a serious illness in his 19th year. He was praying in the dilapidated Church of St. Damiano one day in 1206, and he heard the voice of Christ saying, "Go, Francis, and repair my house which, as you see, is well-nigh in ruins." He went and took some of his father's money for the project. He went on to found the Franciscan Order, which was dedicated to poverty, penance, and the relief of the sick.

In 1582, Pope Gregory the Thirteenth declared that the day following October 4, 1582, would be Friday, October 15, 1582. By leaping over ten days, the Pope corrected the Julian calendar, which was ten days out of sync with the seasons. The new calendar became known as the Gregorian Calendar.

It was on this day in 1957 that the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, into space.

It's the birthday of novelist Anne Rice, born in New Orleans (1941). She began working on her first novel, Interview with a Vampire (1976), after the death of her six-year old daughter in 1970 enabled her to identify with the main character, the vampire Louis. She wrote: "Suddenly, in the guise of Louis, a fantasy figure, I was able to touch the growing reality that was mine ... Through Louis's eyes, everything became accessible." She followed up the success of Interview with a Vampire with several more vampire novels, including The Vampire Lestat (1985) and The Queen of the Damned (1988).

It's the birthday of journalist and short story writer Damon Runyon, born in Manhattan, Kansas (1884). At the age of 14, he ran off to Minnesota, where he convinced the 13th Minnesota Volunteers that he was 18 and got himself shipped off to fight in the Spanish-American War. After two years of guerrilla warfare in the Philippines, he became a reporter, eventually ending up as a sports reporter covering baseball for the New York American. He began writing stories about the bookies and gamblers and other denizens of a seedy section of Broadway, and published it as Guys and Dolls (1931). Jimmy Breslin said of him: "He practically invented at least two decades of his times, and had everybody believing that his street, Broadway, actually existed."

It's the birthday of the Western artist Frederic Remington, born in Canton, New York (1861). He studied art at Yale, and in 1881 he made his first trip out West. His first commercial publication was of a Wyoming cowboy, in the February 1882 Harper's Weekly. Later in his career, he began to work in bronze, and produced the famous sculptures The Bronco Buster and Coming Through the Rye.

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