Mar. 2, 2003
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Poem: "Silver," by Walter de la Mare.
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.
It's the birthday of novelist Peter Straub, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1943). He wrote many best-selling horror stories, Ghost Story (1979) and Talisman (1984) being two of them.
It's the birthday of writer and educator John Jay Chapman, born in New York City (1862). He once said, "You can get assent to almost any proposition so long as you are not going to do anything about it."
It's the birthday of novelist John Irving, born in Exeter, New Hampshire (1942). His first three books were modest sellers, until the publication of The World According to Garp (1978) thrust Irving into fame and onto the bestseller lists. In 1981 his novel The Hotel New Hampshire was published, which begins, "The summer my father bought the bear, none of us was born -- we weren't even conceived: not Frank, the oldest; not Franny; the loudest; not me, the next; and not the youngest of us, Lilly and Egg."
It's the birthday of writer Sholem Aleichem, born in the Ukraine (1859). He wrote in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Russian, and his story Tevye's Daughters became the basis of the stage and film musical, Fiddler on the Roof.
It's the birthday of composer Kurt Weill, born in Dessau, Germany (1900). He is best known for his collaborations with playwright Bertolt Brecht with whom he wrote The Three Penny Opera (1928) with its best selling song, "Mack the Knife." During the 1930s and '40s, Weill collaborated with Ira Gershwin, Maxwell Anderson, Ogden Nash, and S. J. Perleman on such plays as Lady in the Dark (1940), One Touch of Venus (1943), and Street Scene (1947).
It's the birthday of novelist and social commentator Tom Wolfe, born in Richmond, Virginia (1931). At the age of 21, Wolfe tried out as a pitcher for the old New York Giants. He did not make the team. Instead, he decided to become a writer. He worked as a reporter at the New York Herald Tribune, then at Esquire magazine. The editor of Esquire magazine sent him to California to do a freelance piece on the hot rod culture there. He ran up a $750 hotel bill in Beverly Hills, as he grappled with writer's block. He came back to New York with copious notes but no story. The editor finally told Wolfe to give him the notes, and he would make a story out of them. He printed the notes instead, and made Wolfe famous. This "story," became the title piece, along with twenty-one other magazine and newspaper pieces, of Wolfe's first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (1965). His first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, was written in serial form and came out every two weeks in Rolling Stone magazine during 1984 and 1985. It was published in book form in 1987. He coined several phrases that have become popular parts of American slang, including "Good ol'boys," "radical chic," "the ME generation," and "the right stuff" -- The Right Stuff being the title of his book about the space program (1979). He is also well known for his trademark three-piece white suit, white homburg, and white kid gloves. He explained, "I had a white suit made in 1960, started wearing it in January, and found it annoyed people tremendously. It's kind of a harmless form of aggression."
It's the birthday of Dr. Suess, Theodor
Geisel, born in Springfield, Massachusetts (1904). His first children's
book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was finally published
in 1937, after being rejected by 27 publishers. The Cat in the Hat (1957)
was one of his most popular books. One of his last books, Oh, The Places
You'll Go (1990), was written for adults.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®
A generous selection of poems from The Writers Almanac in which poets express their love of American scenes: odes to hardware stores, road poems, poems about big cities and the vast plains and the ocean shore, including chapters entitled "Good Work," "A Sort of Rapture," "2x2x2," "Out West," and "On the Avenue.
Purchase Good Poems American Places »