Feb. 27, 2002
The Cross of Snow
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Poem: "The Cross of Snow," by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The Cross of Snow
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face-the face of one long dead-
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died; and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.
It's the birthday of teacher, poet, and playwright
born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1925). Along with poets John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara,
he became a part of the "New York School" of poetry in the 1950's.
It's the birthday of novelist and short story
T. Farrell, born in Chicago (1904). He's best known for his series of
novels set among the Irish Catholic population of Chicago's South Side-the Studs
Lonigan trilogy: Young Lonigan (1932), The Young Manhood of Studs
Lonigan (1934), and Judgment Day (1935).
It's the birthday of novelist John
Steinbeck, born in Salinas, California (1902). His first novel, Cup
of Gold (1929), was followed by two other unsuccessful books before he won
recognition with Tortilla Flat (1935) and Of Mice and Men (1937).
His greatest popular and critical success came in 1939 with The Grapes of
Wrath, the classic story of the Joads, a family of "Okies" who
flee the Dust Bowl to come to California.
It's the birthday of contralto
Marian Anderson, born in Philadelphia (1897), the first African American
to be named a permanent member of the Metropolitan Opera Company.
It's the birthday of poet Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, born in Portland, Maine (1807). He was the author
of some of the most widely read, memorized-and parodied-poems of the nineteenth
century: poems such as "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," "The
Wreck of the Hesperus," and "The Song of Hiawatha." When he graduated
from Bowdoin College, he wanted to go into literature. His father replied, "A
literary life, to one who has means of support, must be very pleasant. But there
is not wealth and munificence enough in this country to afford sufficient encouragement
and patronage to merely literary men." Longfellow set out to prove his
father wrong. He started out as a teacher at Bowdoin college, but gradually
the success of his poetry enabled him to devote himself entirely to writing-he
became America's first writer to support himself through his own work. In 1861,
however, his second wife died from burns after her dress caught fire. In his
grief, he turned away from the sort of poems that had made him famous, and produced
an English translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (1865-1867).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®