Nov. 14, 2005
Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold
Poem: "Sonnet 73: That Time Of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold" by William Shakespeare Public Domain.
Sonnet 73: That Time Of Year Thou Mayst In Me Behold
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Literary and Historical Notes:
On this day in 1851, Harper & Brothers published Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville, about a ship captain named Ahab who is obsessed with hunting the great white sperm whale that took his leg. The book had been published in Britain in October with the title The Whale; Melville's decision to change the title didn't get there in time. The British publisher accidentally left out the ending of the book, the epilogue. This confused a lot of British readers.
The reviews from Britain were harsh, and costly to Melville. At the time, Americans deferred to British critical opinion, and a lot of American newspaper editors reprinted reviews from Britain without actually reading the American version with the proper ending. Melville had just bought a farm in Massachusetts, his debts were piling up, he was hiding them from his wife, and he was counting on Moby-Dick to bring in enough money to pay off his creditors. The book flopped, partly because of those British reviews. As a writer, Melville never recovered from the disappointment.
It's the birthday of cartoonist and author and William Steig, born in New York City (1907). When he was 23, the New Yorker bought his first cartoon for $40. He collected his cartoons in books such as Small Fry (1944), Spinky Sulks (1988), and Our Miserable Life (1990). It was only late in his life that he began writing books for children. In 1990 he wrote Shrek!, about a green ogre whose name means "fear" in Yiddish and who has nightmares about fields of flowers and happy children who won't stop hugging and kissing him.
It's the birthday of humorist and essayist P.J. (Patrick Jake) O'Rourke, born in Toledo, Ohio (1947). He chose to be a writer because he said, "It was the '60sthere was no quality control on anything. If I wrote, who's to say that I wasn't a writer?"
He said, "Humor is a terrific tool for explaining things, especially when what you're explaining is frightening or dull and complicated."
O'Rourke's most recent book is Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism, which came out last year, in which he wrote, "Wherever there's injustice, oppression, and suffering, America will show up six months late and bomb the country next to where it's happening."
It's the birthday of the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, born Astrid Ericsson on a farm near Vimmerby, Sweden (1907). One day in 1944, she sprained her ankle, and while stuck in bed she began writing about a character named Pippi Longstocking, a nine-year-old girl with no parents who lives in a red house at the edge of a Swedish village with her horse and her pet monkey, Mr. Nilsson. She has red pigtails, and she wears one black stocking and one brown, with black shoes twice as long as her feet. She eats whole chocolate cakes and sleeps with her feet on the pillow, and she's the strongest girl in the world.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®