Wednesday

Oct. 9, 2002

By the Round Pond

by Wendy Cope

WEDNESDAY, 9 OCTOBER 2002
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "By the Round Pond," by Wendy Cope from If I Don't Know (Faber & Faber).

By the Round Pond

You watch yourself. You watch the watcher too-
A ghostly figure on the garden wall.
And one of you is her, and one is you,
If either one of you exists at all.

How strange to be the one behind a face,
To have a name and know that it is yours,
To be in this particular green place,
To see a snail advance, to see it pause.

You sit quite still and wonder when you'll go.
It could be now. Or now. Or now. You stay.
Who's making up the plot? You'll never know.
Minute after minute swims away.



It's the birthday of Brazilian writer Mario de Andrade, born in Sao Paulo (1893). He attempted to write in a colloquial Brazilian speech style rather than "correct" Portuguese.

It's the birthday of musician John Lennon, born in Liverpool, England (1940). He gained fame with his group The Beatles.

On this day in 1965, the Beatles hit song "Yesterday" topped music charts for 4 weeks.

It's the birthday of Australian writer and the first female president of Smith College Jill Ker Conway born in Hillston, New South Wales, Australia (1934). Her father was a sheep rancher, her mother a nurse, and Conway and her brothers were brought up in almost total isolation on Coorain, their 32,000-acre tract of land (Jill was seven before she first saw another female child). Her book The Road From Coorain was about this experience. By age 7, Conway already had become one of her father's main station hands. With her two brothers away at boarding school, she checked fences, prodded sheep from one paddock to another. Jill was educated at the all-female Abbotsleigh School and the University of Sydney, where she took an honors degree in history. She then spent ten years as the president of Smith College, the first woman to hold that position. She is the author of When Memory Speaks and other books. She said: "You never know what you'll want to write until it starts writing itself in your head."

It's the birthday of historian, journalist, author, and editor Bruce Catton, born in Petosky, Michigan (1899). Catton served in the navy and worked for newspapers and the federal government when at the age of fifty-one, he published his first Civil War Book, Mr. Lincoln's Army. He's best known for his two Civil War trilogies -- The Army of the Potomac and The Centennial History of the Civil War. In an address to the Society of American Historians, Catton had this to say about writing history: "Good history is literature."

In 1888 on this day, the Washington Monument was opened to the public. In 1848, at a Fourth of July ceremony, the cornerstone of the monument was laid. Lack of funds and continued interruptions delayed completion until its completion and dedication on February 21, 1885. The 555-foot structure opened officially to the public on October 9, 1888. By the day of the grand opening, the monument was outfitted with a steam-powered elevator that took 10 or 12 minutes for the trip up and down. There was also enough money to quickly gather a staff of 11. When it opened, it was the tallest building in the world. Once it opened, attendance soared. In the first nine months there were over 600,000 visitors. Immediately following the opening several bizarre requests were made. One woman wanted to be married in the elevator while suspended in the middle of the monument. One congressman asked for permission to allow one of his constituents to scatter his wife's ashes from the monument's window.



(Instapaper)

-->

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Sharon Olds at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »