Thursday

May 5, 2005

The Sun Has Burst in the Sky

by Jenny Joseph

THURSDAY, 5 MAY, 2005
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Poem: "The sun has burst in the sky" by Jenny Joseph from Selected Poems. ©Bloodaxe Books. Reprinted with permission.

The sun has burst in the sky

The sun has burst in the sky
Because I love you
And the river its banks.

The sea laps the great rocks
Because I love you
And takes no heed of the moon dragging it away
And saying coldly 'Constancy is not for you.'
The blackbird fills the air
Because I love you
With spring and lawns and shadows falling on lawns.

The people walk in the street and laugh
I love you
And far down the river ships sound their hooters
Crazy with joy because I love you.


Literary and Historical Notes:

Today is Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican holiday marking the defeat of the French invaders at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is an even bigger holiday in this country than in Mexico. It's estimated Americans will eat 54 million avocados today, most of them in the form of guacamole.


It's the birthday of Karl Marx, born in Trier, Prussia (1818). He went to school at a time of severe repression. The Prussian government kept the teachers under police surveillance to make sure they wouldn't teach anything too radical and so the students, including Marx, became extremely radical.

As a result of his beliefs, Marx was not able to get a job as a professor after he got his doctorate in philosophy. And without a job, he spent his time analyzing history and came to the conclusion that all historical events were caused by economic forces.

He got involved in communism, the belief that all private property should be abolished, moved around Europe, writing for newspapers, studying, wanting to write a book about his economic ideas. But Marx was an obsessive researcher, and never knew when to stop reading and start writing. He only became productive after he met Friedrich Engels, a socialist who was also wealthy—the heir to a textile business.

Their main theory was that the economic system was a perpetual conflict between those who controlled the capital and those who provided the labor, that the conflict would never be resolved peacefully, that in a free market, workers would continue periodically to lose their jobs, their standard of living would fall, and this would inevitably lead to violent revolution. He believed that giant corporations would dominate the world's industries, that globalism in trade would make markets even more unstable.

Marx and Engels published their Communist Manifesto in 1848, and revolution did break out afterward in France, Italy, and Austria. Marx's newspaper was shut down. He had to flee the country. He moved to London, worked for years on his last book, Das Kapital. His family in poverty, Marx said, "I don't suppose anyone has ever written about 'money' when so short of the stuff." A spy from Prussia was keeping tabs on him and wrote, "Washing, grooming and changing his clothes are things he does rarely. He does not shave at all!"

He fed his family on bread and potatoes, and when one of his children died, his wife had to borrow money from a neighbor to buy a coffin.

When Marx died in 1883, only 11 persons came to his funeral.


It's the birthday of the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, born in Copenhagen in 1813.


It's the birthday of the great food writer and food lover James Beard, born in Portland, Oregon, (1903). He said, "I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around."


It's the birthday of Richard Rovere, born in Jersey City, New Jersey (1915). He was a writer for many years for the New Yorker magazine, the author of a biography of Senator Joseph McCarthy.


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

 









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