Mar. 7, 2006
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Poem: "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost from The Poetry of Robert Frost. © Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Reprinted with permission.
Literary and Historical Notes:
It was on this day in 1994 that the Supreme Court ruled that parody can be protected by the fair use clause of the Copyright Act of 1976. The case arose from a song by the rap group 2 Live Crew, which used elements of the Roy Orbison song from 1964, "Oh Pretty Woman."
The Roy Orbison version of the song is about a man watching a pretty woman walking down the street. The 2 Live Crew version is about the subsequent relationship with that woman, who becomes a hairy woman, a bald-headed woman, and a two-timing woman. The music publishing company Acuff-Rose, which holds the copyright for the Roy Orbison song, sued 2 Live Crew for copyright violation.
Justice David H. Souter wrote, "Like less ostensibly humorous forms of criticism, [parody] can provide social benefit by shedding light on an earlier work and, in the process, creating a new one."
It was on this day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell received patent No. 174,465 for the telephone. He filed for his patent on the same day as a Chicago electrician named Elisha Gray filed for a patent on basically the same device. Bell only beat Gray by two hours. Bell offered to sell his patent to Western Union for $100,000, but Western Union turned him down.
It was on this day in 1933 that a man named Charles Darrow trademarked the board game Monopoly. Darrow based the game on an earlier game called "The Landlord's Game," which had been designed by a woman named Elizabeth Magie. She'd designed the game back in 1904 as an educational tool, to teach people about the evils of capitalism. Darrow's real genius wasn't in inventing the game, but in redesigning it. In the midst of the Great Depression, he turned the game into a celebration of capitalism, giving people a chance to imagine that they were rich.
It's the birthday of painter Piet Mondrian, born in a small town in the Netherlands called Amersfoort (1872). He began his career by painting windmills, moonlit nights and views of dunes in the style of Van Gogh, but he didn't have much success. Then in 1921, just as Mondrian was about to give up painting for work in a French vineyard, his father died. Mondrian suddenly began to paint the paintings that would make him famous: rigid black rectangles on white backgrounds, occasionally filled by primary colors.
On this day in 1923, Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," was published in the New Republic magazine. It was Frost's favorite of his own poems, and he called it, "My best bid for remembrance."
Though it's a poem about winter, Frost wrote the first draft on a warm morning in the middle of June. The night before he had stayed up working at his kitchen table on a long, difficult poem called "New Hampshire" (1923). He finally finished it, and then looked up and saw that it was morning. He'd never worked all night on a poem before. Feeling relieved at the work he'd finished, he went outside and watched the sunrise.
But while he was outside, he suddenly got an idea for a new poem. So he rushed back inside his house and wrote "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" in just a few minutes. He said he wrote most of the poem almost without lifting his pen off the page.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®