Saturday

Jan. 24, 2009

Snowfall In The Afternoon

by Robert Bly

I
The grass is half-covered with snow.
It was the sort of snowfall that starts in late afternoon,
And now the little houses of the grass are growing
    dark.

II
If I could reach down, near the earth,
I could take handfuls of darkness!
A darkness that was always there, which we never
    noticed.

III
As the snow grows heavier, the cornstalks fade farther
    away,
And the barn moves nearer to the house.
The barn moves all alone in the growing storm.

IV
The barn is full of corn, and moving toward us now,
Like a hulk blown toward us in a storm at sea;
All the sailors on deck have been blind for many
    years.

"Snowfall In The Afternoon" by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems. © Harper Flamingo, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Edith Wharton, (books by this author) born Edith Newbold Jones in New York City in 1862. She was from an aristocratic ship-owning and real estate family, connected to the cultured high society of New York. She took to writing early and wrote her first novel when she was 11 years old.

She married young, a loveless marriage to a banker named Edward Robbins Wharton, who was mentally ill and alcoholic. The story was that Edith Wharton was in love with another man named Walter Berry, whose photo she kept on her mantelpiece next to the photo of her husband. She wrote: "I wonder, among all the tangles of this mortal coil, which one contains tighter knots to undo, and more tugging, and pain, and diversified elements of misery, than the marriage tie."

Edith Wharton wrote novels about frustrated love, including Ethan Frome (1911) and The Age of Innocence(1920), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.

It's the birthday of the writer and comedian John Belushi, born in Chicago in 1949. He acted with a Chicago improv group called "The Second City" and then moved on to the satirical revue National Lampoon's Lemmings. It was a huge hit in New York City in 1973. The troupe was booked for six weeks in Greenwich Village, but the show was so popular that they extended it to 10 months.

In 1975, NBC producer Lorne Michaels recruited John Belushi to be a member of a late night comedy variety show, to be broadcast from New York's Rockefeller Center: Saturday Night Live. John Belushi played a samurai warrior, the leader of a band of killer bees, and the Greek owner of a luncheonette where the only dialogue from the counterman to the cook was "cheeseburger … chips … Pepsi."

He starred in a low-budget National Lampoon movie, Animal House (1978), which became a cult classic. And he made a movie with Dan Aykroyd, The Blues Brothers (1980), based on a routine they had done frequently on Saturday Night Live.

Belushi was known for his high-energy comedy. He died at the age of 33 of an overdose of cocaine at a hotel on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Several years later, journalist Bob Woodward published a biography of the comedy star — Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi (1985).

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

 









«

»

  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook


The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Sharon Olds at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »