Dec. 24, 2002
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Poem: "Dear Superman," by Ron Koertge from Geography of the Forehead (University of Arkansas Press).
I know you think that things
will always be the same: I'll rinse
out your tights, kiss you good-bye
at the window, and every few weeks
get kidnapped by some stellar goons.
But I'm not getting any younger,
and you're not getting any older.
Pretty soon I'll be too frail
to take aloft, and with all those
nick-of-time rescues, you're bound
to pick up somebody more tender
and just as ga-ga as I used to be.
I'd hate her for being 17 and you
for being what, 700?
I can see your sweet face as you read
this, and I know you'd like to siphon
off some strength for me, even if it
meant you could only leap small buildings
at a single bound. But you can't,
and, anyway, would I want to
just stand there while everything
else rushed past?
Take care of yourself and of the world
which is your own true love. One day
soon, as you patrol the curved earth,
that'll be me down there tucked in
for good, being what you'll never be
It was on this day in 1914, in the midst of World War I, that thousands of British and German troops set aside the war for a few hours and came out of their trenches to sing Christmas carols in their two languages about one hundred yards apart.
On this day in 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a Canadian physicist, made the first radio broadcast of the human voice in history, from Brant Rock, Massachusetts. Radio operators on ships in the Atlantic expecting Morse code were surprised when they heard him give a short speech, play a record, and give a rendition of "O Holy Night" on his violin.
It's the birthday of poet and critic Matthew Arnold, born in Laleham-on-Thames, England (1822). He was considered by many to be the most important literary critic of his time, and is considered one of the "big three" of Victorian poets, along with Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. He is probably best known for his 1853 book called Poems, which included some poetry -- most notably "Dover Beach." His first book of poems, The Strayed Traveller and Other Poems (1849), attracted little notice. He was also a fierce critic and when he died, Robert Louis Stevenson said, "Poor Matt. He's gone to Heaven, no doubt -- but he won't like God." He said that good poetry must possess "clearness of arrangement, rigor of development, [and] simplicity of style." Great poetry should be about great events, like conquering Rome, and great poets should be cheerful, calm, and invisible.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®