Friday

May 2, 2008

The Quarter

by Jim Harrison

Maybe the problem is that I got involved with the wrong crowd of gods
when I was seven. At first they weren't harmful and only showed
themselves as fish, birds, especially herons and loons, turtles, a bobcat and a
small bear, but not deer and rabbits who only offered themselves as food.
And maybe I spent too much time inside the water of lakes and rivers.
Underwater seemed like the safest church I could go to. And sleeping
outside that young might have seeped too much dark into my brain and
bones. It was not for me to ever recover. The other day I found a quarter in
the driveway I lost at the Mecosta State Fair in 1947 and missed out on five
rides including the Ferris wheel and the Tilt-A-Whirl. I sat in anger for hours
in the bull barn mourning my lost quarter on which the entire tragic history
of earth is written. I looked up into the holes of the bulls' massive noses and
at the brass rings puncturing their noses which allowed them to be led. It
would have been an easier life if I had allowed a ring in my nose but so
many years later I still find the spore of the gods here and there but never in
the vicinity of quarters.

"The Quarter" by Jim Harrison. Used with permission of the poet.

It's the birthday of Dr. Benjamin Spock, (books by this author) born in New Haven, Connecticut (1903). His Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) was a best seller during the period after World War II, when parents across America were raising the Baby Boom generation. Spock opened his first pediatric practice in 1933. After 10 years of observing children and their health, Spock decided to write a book about taking care of them. Instead of writing it out himself, he dictated the book to his wife, to give it a conversational tone. Previous parenting guidebooks had encouraged parents to be stern with their children, and they were written as a list of commands. Dr. John B. Watson had written in his guidebook, "Never, never kiss your child. Never hold it in your lap. Never rock its carriage." Dr. Spock encouraged parents to be affectionate, and he also encouraged them to follow their own instincts. The first sentence of his book was, "You know more than you think you do."

It's the birthday of songwriter Lorenz Hart, born in Harlem, New York (1895), who wrote the lyrics to "My Funny Valentine," which appeared in the 1937 Broadway musical Babes in Arms:

My funny valentine
Sweet comic valentine
You make me smile with my heart

You looks are laughable, unphotographable
Yet you're my favorite work of art.


He also wrote the lyrics to "Blue Moon," which appeared in 1934:

Blue moon,
you saw me standing alone
without a dream in my heart
without a love of my own.

It's the birthday of humorist Jerome K. Jerome, (books by this author) born in Walsall, England (1859), who said, "It is always the best policy to speak the truth, unless of course you are an exceptionally good liar."

And, "It is so pleasant to come across people more stupid than ourselves. We love them at once for being so."


It was on this day in 1611 that the first edition of the King James Bible was published in England.

It was a chaotic time in England, and King James I thought that a new translation of the Bible might help hold the country together. There had been several English translations of the Bible already, and each English version of the Bible had different proponents. King James wanted a Bible that would become the definitive version, a Bible that all English people could read together. King James appointed a committee of 54 linguists for the project. For the first few years, the scholars worked privately on the translation, and starting in 1607, the collaborative work was assembled. It went to press in 1610, and the first finished King James Bibles appeared in 1611.

Many of the turns of phrase in the King James Bible came from previous translations, but it was the King James Version that set them all in stone. Several of its phrases have become enduring English expressions, such as "the land of the living," "sour grapes," "like a lamb to slaughter," "the salt of the earth," "the apple of his eye," "to give up the ghost, and "the valley of the shadow of death."

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

 









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