Wednesday

Feb. 6, 2002

There were Three Jovial Huntsmen

by Anonymous

WEDNESDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2002

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Poem: "There were Three Jovial Huntsmen," by Anonymous.

There were Three Jovial Huntsmen

There were three jovial huntsmen,
As I have heard men say,
And they would go a-hunting
Upon St. David's Day.

All the day they hunted
And nothing could they find,
But a ship a-sailing,
A-sailing with the wind.

One said it was a ship,
The other he said, Nay;
The third said it was a house,
With the chimney blown away.

And all the night they hunted
And nothing could they find,
But the moon a-gliding,
A-gliding with the wind.

One said it was the moon,
The other he said, Nay;
The third said it was a cheese,
And half of it cut away.

And all the day they hunted
And nothing could they find,
But a hedgehog in a bramble bush,
And that they left behind.

The first said it was a hedgehog,
The second he said, Nay;
The third said it was a pincushion,
And the pins stuck in wrong way.

And all the night they hunted
And nothing could they find,
But a hare in a turnip field,
And that they left behind.

The first said it was a hare,
The second he said, Nay;
The third said it was a calf,
And the cow had run away.

And all the day they hunted
And nothing could they find,
But an owl in a holly tree,
And that they left behind.

One said it was an owl,
The other he said, Nay;
The third said it was the evil one,
And they all ran away.

It's the birthday of anthropologist Mary (Douglas Nicol) Leakey, born in London, England (1913). In the mid-1930's, she joined her husband, Dr. Louis Leakey, on an archeological expedition to Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. It was there, in the 1950's, that she discovered a complete skull of an Australopithecus, which became a candidate for the earliest hominid ancestor of modern humans. A few years later, also at Olduvai, she unearthed the remains of homo habilis, which proved even more likely to be the earliest homonid ancestor. Together, she and her husband advanced the notion that the origin of the human species lay in eastern Africa. In 1978, several years after her husband's death, she discovered a trail of homonid footprints, roughly three million years old, preserved in volcanic ash in Africa. The footprints were of a man, a woman, and a child. At one point, the tracks of the woman pause, and she appears to have turned briefly to the left. Leakey wrote: "This motion, so intensely human, transcends time. A remote ancestor-just as you or I-experienced a moment of doubt. The tracks were so sharp they could have been left this morning. . ."

It's the birthday of English playwright Christopher Marlowe, born in Canterbury, England (1564). He was only twenty-nine when he died, under suspicious circumstances, in a tavern in Deptford. But in his short life he produced three great plays which show a talent that may have rivaled his younger contemporary, Shakespeare, if it had been allowed to develop. The plays were Tamburlaine the Great (1587), The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (about 1587), and The Jew of Malta (about 1589). He was a friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, who may have recruited him as a spy for the government of Queen Elizabeth the First. The three men who were with him when he died were all known spies, one of them a double agent. The men allegedly argued with Marlowe over the tavern bill, an argument that ended when Marlowe was fatally stabbed in the skull. In addition to his plays, Marlowe is known for his poem "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love": Come live with me, and be my love,/And we will all the pleasures prove…

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