Jun. 3, 2001

Church Going

by Philip Larkin

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Poem: "Church Going," by Philip Larkin from The Less Deceived (The Marwell Press).

On this day in 1989, a group of protesters demonstrating in Tianenmen Square in Beijing, demonstrating in favor of democratic reforms, were set upon by Chinese soldiers and between 400 hundred and 800 civilians were left dead.

It's the birthday of novelist Larry McMurtry, born in Witchita Falls, Texas, in 1936, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Lonesome Dove in 1986.

It's the birthday of the poet Allen Ginsberg, born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926. He's best-known for his long poem, "Howl," published when he was 30 years old.

And it's the birthday of the British journalist William Hone, born in Bath, England, in 1780. He was famous for the first exposés of the conditions of insane asylums in Great Britain, and for his battles to win freedom of speech. In 1819, he came out with a political satire, The Political House That Jack Built, with lines such as These are the people all tatter'd and torn,/Who curse the day wherein they were born,/On account of Taxation too great to be borne. He was charged with sedition for writing the stuff, and in a landmark case centering on freedom of speech, won his own acquittal, which made him a hero for writers across England. When he died in London in 1842, young Charles Dickens attended his funeral and helped to pay for his widow's living expenses.

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