Sep. 19, 2005
Long Island Sound
Poem: "Long Island Sound" by Emma Lazarus. Public Domain.
Long Island Sound
I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,-by a fresh soft breeze o'erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It was on this day in 1819, the young John Keats took a walk out around Winchester, England and wrote a poem called "To Autumn," which begins:
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run."
It was on this day in 1991 that a body was found frozen in a glacier in the Alps between Austria and Italy. A German tourist found the body and called the Austrian police. They tried to free the body from the ice with a jackhammer. It was only when an anthropologist showed up to examine the body that they realized it was a very, very old corpse5,300 years old, in factof a man between 25 and 35 years old. He was five feet, two inches tall, with hair about three inches long. He had tattoos. He wore an unlined fur robe, a woven grass cape, and size six shoes stuffed with grass for warmth.
He came to be called the Iceman, and what made him such a remarkable discovery for anthropologists was the fact that he died while he was out walking on an ordinary day wearing ordinary clothing. He carried a copper axe and a fur quiver for his arrows, the only quiver from the Neolithic period that has ever been found. His arrows had sharp flint points and feathers that were affixed at an angle that would cause the arrows to spin. And he carried mushrooms in his bag that scientists speculate were used for medicine.
It was not until ten years later that a forensics expert noticed in an x-ray that the Iceman had an arrowhead lodged in his back. He had been murdered.
It's the birthday of the man who wrote Lord of the Flies, William Golding, born in Cornwall, England (1911). He was a school teacher who joined the British Navy during World War II and was shocked by the violence and cruelty of war. He came back and wrote Lord of the Flies about a group of boys were who stranded on a desert island and struggle for survival. One of them tries to establish a democracy, but a bunch of boys break off from the main group, and it turns into violent anarchy.
William Golding wrote eleven more books after Lord of the Flies, including Rites of Passage, which won the Booker Prize in 1980. His own favorite of his own books was The Inheritors, about the destruction of Neanderthal Man by Homo sapiens.
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