Jun. 3, 2007
The Wind Blows High
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Poem: "The Wind Blows High" by Anonymous. Public domain.
The Wind Blows High
The wind the wind the wind blows high
the rain comes scattering down the sky
she is handsome she is pretty
she is the girl of the golden city
she goes acourting one two three
please and tell me who is she
Gerry Johnson says he loves her
all the boys are fighting for her
let the boys say what they will
Gerry Johnson loves her still
he loves her he kisses her he sets her on his knee
he says dear darling won't you marry me?
he says tomorrow and she says today
so lets get a taxi and drive them away
Literary and Historical Notes:
It was on this day in 1800 that President John Adams arrived in Washington, D.C., for the first time. The capital city, which had been chosen by George Washington as the seat of government for the United States, was still under construction. There were no schools or churches, and only a few stores and hotels. The majority of buildings were shacks for the workers who were building the White House and the Capital. The area was swampy and full of mosquitoes, and the ground covered with tree stumps and rubble.
It took several more months before Adams was able to live in the White House, then known as the President's House. On the day he moved in, the house was still unfinished, still smelling of wet paint and wet plaster. The furniture had been shipped down from Philadelphia, but it didn't quite fit the enormous rooms of the new house. The only painting that had been hung on the wall was a portrait of George Washington in a black velvet suit.
Adams had left Abigail in Philadelphia, so he had to sleep alone. The following morning, he sat down at his desk, and in a letter to his wife he wrote, "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof."
Adams only lived in the White House for a few more months, since he lost the election to Jefferson that year. But about 150 years later, Franklin Roosevelt had the words from Adams's letter to Abigail carved into the mantel in the State Dining Room.
It's the birthday of Jefferson Davis, born in Christian County, Kentucky (1808). He's remembered as the man who served as president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, a job he never wanted. Before the war, he had urged compromise between the North and the South.
When the war came to an end, he was captured in Georgia and imprisoned for two years. He was charged with treason but never brought to trial. He refused to ask for a pardon and refused to take an oath of loyalty to the United States, and did not regain his citizenship in his lifetime.
But the year he died, 1889, Davis said in a speech to a group of former Confederates, "The past is dead; let it bury its dead, its hopes and aspirations... Let me beseech you to lay aside all rancor, all bitter sectional feeling, and to take your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished a reunited country."
It's the birthday of poet Allen Ginsberg (books by this author), born in Newark, New Jersey (1926). He fell in love with the poetry of Walt Whitman when he was in high school, after hearing his English teacher read a passage from Whitman's "Song of Myself" to the class. He went to Columbia University, planning to take pre-law classes and become a lawyer like his brother, but he switched his major to English and fell in with a group of poets and artists that included Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs.
He eventually wound up in San Francisco, and one afternoon in the summer of 1954, he sat down at his typewriter with the goal of writing down whatever came into his head as quickly as he could. And he began to type the famous opening lines, "I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked."
It's the birthday of novelist Larry McMurtry (books by this author), born in Wichita Falls, Texas (1936). He grew up in a small town called Archer City, and came from a long line of Texas ranchers. He never thought cowboys were romantic figures. He said, "[Real cowboys] led very drab, mostly repetitive, unexciting lives. But people seem to need to believe that they are simple, strong, and free, and not twisted, fascistic, and dumb, as many I've known have been."
But despite his dislike for cowboys, he went on to write one of the most popular Westerns of all time, Lonesome Dove (1985) (buy now), which became a huge best seller and a TV miniseries and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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