Sunday

Mar. 31, 2013

Easter Morning

by Jim Harrison

On Easter morning all over America
the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.

We're not supposed to have "peasants"
but there are tens of millions of them
frying potatoes on Easter morning,
cheap and delicious with catsup.

If Jesus were here this morning he might
be eating fried potatoes with my friend
who has a '51 Dodge and a '72 Pontiac.

When his kids ask why they don't have
a new car he says, "these cars were new once
and now they are experienced."

He can fix anything and when rich folks
call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
extra hours so that they can further
learn what we're made of.

I told him that in Mexico the poor say
that when there's lightning the rich
think that God is taking their picture.
He laughed.

Like peasants everywhere in the history
of the world ours can't figure out why
they're getting poorer. Their sons join
the army to get work being shot at.

Your ideals are invisible clouds
so try not to suffocate the poor,
the peasants, with your sympathies.
They know that you're staring at them.

"Easter Morning" by Jim Harrison, from Saving Daylight. © Copper Canyon Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Daylight Saving Time went into effect in the United States for the first time on this date in 1918. Benjamin Franklin was the first person to come up with the idea of changing our clocks to take advantage of the longer days. He was serving as a delegate in Paris in 1784, and noticed that Parisians tended to sleep late in the mornings. He wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay arguing that sunlight was going to waste in the mornings and would be much more appreciated in the evenings. By changing the clocks and shifting the daylight hours later, he wrote, people could take advantage of more natural light and save money on candles and lamp oil.

It's the birthday of philosopher René Descartes (books by this author), born in La Haye en Touraine, France (1596), called the father of modern philosophy, but he considered himself a mathematician and scientist. He became interested in philosophy when he heard that the church persecuted Galileo for his scientific theories. Descartes realized some of his own theories were also controversial, so he wrote a book called Discourse on Method (1637), about the necessity of doubt in scientific inquiry. He also wrote about beginning to doubt everything about his life, even the fact of his own existence. But in the process of doing so, he realized that he couldn't doubt the existence of his own thoughts, and he produced his most famous line: "I think, therefore I am."

It's the birthday of the poet Andrew Marvell (books by this author), born in Winestead, England (1621). His most famous poem is "To His Coy Mistress," about a man trying to convince a young virgin to sleep with him. It begins, "Had we but world enough, and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime," and contains the lines, "But at my back I always hear Time's winged chariot hurrying near."

Oklahoma! opened on Broadway on this date in 1943. It was based on a play called Green Grow the Lilacs (1930), by Lynn Riggs. Though the play, which was about settlers in the Oklahoma Territory, featured some old folk songs, it wasn't a musical of the Broadway variety. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein were both admirers of the play, and they had both independently tried to adapt it to the musical format, but their respective songwriting partners — Lorenz Hart and Jerome Kern — weren't interested. So Rodgers approached Hammerstein about it. Usually, musicals were made up of fairly thin and joke-riddled plotlines that only served to string together the most important element: the songs. But Rodgers and Hammerstein were both committed to making the songs fit the story, rather than the other way around. One of Broadway's most beloved musicals, as well as one of its most successful partnerships, was born out of their collaboration.

Nobody expected the show to do very well, but Oklahoma! was an immediate smash hit, and the first big Broadway blockbuster. It ran for more than 2,200 performances.

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

 









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