Sunday

Mar. 16, 2003

Crying

by Galway Kinnell

SUNDAY, 16 MARCH 2003
Listen
(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Crying," by Galway Kinnell from Three Books (Houghton Mifflin).

Crying

Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
and splash-splash-splash!
Then you can throw open your window
and, "Ha ha! ha ha!"
And if people say, "Hey
what's going on up there?"
"Ha ha!" sing back, "Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!"

Literary Notes:


It's the birthday of musician and composer William Henry Monk, born in London (1823). He was an English organist, and he was the music director of St. Matthias Church for nearly forty years. He edited the standard hymnal Hymns Ancient and Modern, which sold, over the years, 60 million copies. He also wrote the hymn "Eventide," better known today as "Abide with Me."

It's the birthday of painter Rosa Bonheur, born in Bordeaux France, (1822). Her father was a painter who taught her himself, sending her to the Louvre to draw. She became fascinated with the idea of painting and sculpting animals. By the time she reached adulthood she had a menagerie of her own, including a sheep, which she kept out on the balcony of her family's sixth-floor apartment. She wore men's clothes, smoked tobacco in public, and rode astride instead of sidesaddle. She showed paintings at the Paris Salon every year; the huge, twelve-by-seven canvas "The Horse Fair" was taken to Queen Victoria for a private viewing; even Buffalo Bill was an admirer. She received a steady stream of commissions for most of her life, and made enough money not to have to worry about it.

It's the birthday of physicist Georg Ohm, born in Erlangen, Bavaria (1787). He dreamed of teaching at the University of Munich. He started experimenting with electromagnetic force, making all his own wire for his work in various thicknesses and lengths, and using mathematics to analyze his results. In 1827 he published the book for which he is best known, The Galvanic Circuit, Investigated Mathematically. In it he set out the relationships he had found between electric current, resistance, and voltage.

It's the birthday of the fourth president of the United States, James Madison, born in Port Conway, Virginia (1751). As a delegate to the Continental Congress, he made a careful study of all the governments in Europe. He called for a Constitutional Convention in 1787, and put forward the first draft of a plan for the new government. He also made detailed notes during the Convention, now the only remaining record of the proceedings. He wrote 29 of the newspaper articles now called The Federalist Papers, written as a kind of public relations move to explain the Constitution to the electorate. Madison was less able as a President than as a political theorist. The War of 1812 brought the country almost to its knees; the British sacked Washington, and Madison watched the White House burn from a nearby hill.

It's the birthday of astronomer Caroline Herschel, born in Hanover, Germany (1750). A bout of typhus fever when she was ten stunted her growth; she never grew any taller than four foot three. Her parents assured her that she was too odd-looking ever to hope to marry anyone, and urged her to direct her aspirations elsewhere. Her brother William, who was an organist, had moved to England to find work, and he brought her there and supported her studies. She learned music, English and mathematics, and she began to make a name for herself as a singer. But William had already gotten interested in astronomy, and enlisted her help as he mapped the heavens. He became the royal court astronomer, and eventually she too received a salary directly from the King for her work as William's assistant. After he died she went back to Germany and went on making observations and calculations; no errors have ever been found in her notes. She catalogued twenty-five hundred nebulae and discovered eight comets. She died at the age of ninety-seven.




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 »