Saturday

Mar. 23, 2002

The Moon Was A-waning

by James Hogg

SATURDAY, 23 MARCH 2002
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Poem
: "The Moon Was A-waning," by James Hogg.

The Moon Was A-waning

The moon was a-waning,
The tempest was over;
Fair was the maiden,
And fond was the lover;
But the snow was so deep,
That his heart it grew weary,
And he sunk down to sleep,
In the moorland so dreary.

Soft was the bed
She had made for her lover,
White were the sheets
And embroider'd the cover;
But his sheets are more white,
And his canopy grander,
And sounder he sleeps
Where the hill foxes wander.

Alas, pretty maiden,
What sorrows attend you!
I see you sit shivering,
With lights at your window;
But long may you wait
Ere your arms shall enclose him,
For still, still he lies,
With a wreath on his bosom!

How painful the task
The sad tidings to tell you! -
An orphan you were
Ere this misery befell you;
And far in yon wild,
Where the dead-tapers hover,
So cold, cold and wan
Lies the corpse of your lover!


It's the birthday of poet and novelist David R. Slavitt, born in White Plains, New York (1935). Author or editor of more than 60 books, starting with The Exhibitionist (1967), which he wrote under the pen name Henry Sutton.

It's the birthday of amateur track star Roger Bannister, born in Harrow on the Hill, England (1929), the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. On May 6, 1954, despite a cold cross wind and poor track conditions, he ran the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, collapsing at the tape.

It's the birthday of children's author Eleanor Cameron, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba (1912). Her adult fiction was published to good reviews but poor sales. When she was 42, her son David asked her to write "a story about himself and his best friend and how they would build a spaceship and go off and find a planet." She wrote The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (1954) and it was a big success. In 1974, Cameron won the National Book Award for The Court of the Stone Children (1973).

It's the birthday of Fannie Farmer, born in Boston (1857). She was the headmistress of the Boston Cooking School, when, in 1896, she published the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, which revolutionized the field of cookbooks by giving standard measurements-right down to an eighth of a teaspoon-instead just saying of "a pinch of this" or "a dash of that." The publisher was skeptical that it would sell very well-he assumed that everybody knew how to cook-and made her pay all the costs of the printing. But the book went on to sell 4 million copies and made her a household name.

On this day in 1743, Handel's Messiah oratorio was given its first performance, at the Covent Garden Theatre, in London. When the Hallelujah Chorus began, King George the Second leaped to his feet, and everyone else in the theater followed suit-a tradition that is still observed today.



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