Feb. 24, 2002

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Poem: "Spring," by Gerard Manley Hopkins.


Nothing is so beautiful as spring -
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. - Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

On this day in 1942, The Voice of America went on the air for the first time, in response to the need for reliable news broadcasting in war-torn Europe. On the first broadcast the announcer proclaimed, "Here speaks a voice from America. Every day at this time we will bring you news of the war. The news may be good. The news may be bad. We shall tell you the truth."

It's the birthday of poet and writer August Derleth, born in Sauk City, Wisconsin (1909). He wrote many books about his home town, which he called "Sac Prairie" in his fiction.

It's the birthday of educator and writer Mary Ellen Chase, born in Blue Hill, Maine (1887). Most of her novels deal with the seafaring life of the inhabitants of rural Maine. Chase taught literature at Smith College for almost thirty years.

It's the birthday of "The Flying Dutchman," baseball great Honus Wagner (John Peter Wagner), born in Carnegie, Pennsylvania (1874). Wagner was a sensational hitter, a brilliant base runner, a flawless fielder, and an outstanding shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, hitting one hundred and one home runs between 1897 and 1917. One of the first five players to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (1936), many people still consider him to be baseball's greatest player. There are only about fifty original prints of his baseball card still in existence. A mint-condition card recently sold at auction to an anonymous bidder for 1.1 million dollars.

It's the birthday of novelist and critic George Augustus Moore, born in Ballyglass, Ireland (1852). He studied painting in Paris, and then turned to writing. His first work of fiction, A Modern Lover (1883), was banned from libraries. This fueled his lifelong battle against censorship and prudery. Moore, who said: "A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."

It's the birthday of educator and entomologist John Henry Comstock, born in Janesville, Wisconsin (1849). He was a professor at Cornell University, where he wrote important books about insects.

It's the birthday of Wilhelm Karl Grimm, born in Hanau, Germany (1786), one of the Grimm brothers who collected German folk tales, including "Hansel and Gretel," "Cinderella," "Rumpelstiltskin," and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The Grimm brothers bowdlerized them, removing some of the violence, such as the end of "Snow White" where the wicked queen was originally forced to don red hot slippers and dance until she dies. They also edited out sexual activity, such as the premarital activities of Rapunzel and the prince who climbs up into her tower.

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  • “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
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