May 19, 2010
Song of Solomon
I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily
among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved
among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the
banqueting house, and his banner over me was love...
...The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the
mountains, skipping upon the hills....
...My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair
one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and
gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of
birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The
fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender
grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come
It was on this day in 1536 that Anne Boleyn was beheaded for the charge of adultery, only a few years after she had inspired King Henry VIII to create an entirely new church just so that he could marry her.
When she met Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn was an 18-year-old girl who had plenty of admirers. She was beautiful, but she was also smart. She could debate theology and discuss literature.
Henry wanted Anne as a mistress, but she was an extremely ambitious young woman. And so she told the king that she couldn't give herself to him unless they were married. He was genuinely smitten with this young woman, and he was also desperate for a male heir. So he decided to break with his wife of more than 20 years, and asked the pope for an annulment of his first marriage. The Pope refused, for both political and religious reasons. Henry had spent his life as a devout Catholic, and took very seriously his role as a defender of the faith. But when the Pope stood in the way of his love, Henry declared himself the head of the new Church of England, and granted himself an annulment in his own matrimonial suit.
Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in 1533. It was only the second time in English history that a king had married for love, and it was possibly the only time in history that a new church has been founded just to facilitate a marriage. And yet, that marriage didn't last long. He didn't like that their first child was a girl. The one thing that might have saved Anne would have been a male child. Historians think she may have had several miscarriages or stillborn children, and it is certain that she miscarried in 1536, a stillborn male four months into her pregnancy. A few months later, she was arrested on charges of adultery and was set to be executed. Most historians believe the charges were false.
After her death, portraits of her were destroyed, along with her books and correspondence, and poems and songs she wrote. Her rivals spread rumors and made up stories about her, to defame her reputation in the history books, claiming that she'd been ugly and deformed, with a sixth finger on one hand and a huge hump on her neck. But despite all that, her daughter Elizabeth, the daughter who had so disappointed Henry VIII, grew up to become one of the most influential queens in history.
When she was pregnant with her first daughter, she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992). She has published 15 novels since then, averaging almost one a year, including Mercy (1996), My Sister's Keeper (2004), Nineteen Minutes (2007), and her most recent, Handle with Care (2009). Two of her novels debuted at #1 on the New York Times bet-seller list.
She wrote many films, and in the early '90s she started directing as well. She is the writer of When Harry Met Sally … (1989), and the writer and director of Sleepless in Seattle (1993), You've Got Mail (1998), and last year's Julie & Julia (2009).
Ephron's most recent essay collection is I Feel Bad About My Neck (2006), essays about being a middle-aged woman, about parenting, moving to a smaller home after children grow up, and the tricks she uses to try and look younger.
It's the birthday of Ho Chi Minh, born Nguyên Sinh Cung in Hoàng Trù, a village in central Vietnam (1890) when Vietnam was a French colony. As a young man, he went to France, worked in a kitchen and in a photo lab, and spent his free time in libraries reading all he could about history and politics. He worked for a while in New York City and London, then went back to France, where he joined up with the new French Communist Party.
He went back to Vietnam and organized the Viet Minh independence movement, and he fought the French and the Japanese (who occupied Vietnam during WWII). Then in 1945, he declared a Proclamation of Independence.
The famous Ho Chi Minh Trail was the route along which the North Vietnamese government ran supplies for the Viet Cong guerillas in the South, and it has become a series of golf courses, the Ho Chi Minh Golf Trail, geared toward tourists.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®