Mar. 7, 2002

maggie and milly and molly and may

by E. E. Cummings

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Maggie and Milly and Molly and May," by e.e. cummings from Collected Poems (Liveright).

Maggie And Milly And Molly And May

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and

millie befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles: and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

It's the birthday of novelist, short-story writer, journalist and political activist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, born in Aracataca, Colombia (1928). He spent many years traveling and working as a journalist while writing fiction, disappointed that none of his books sold more than a few hundred copies. He began work on a long fictionalized history of Colombia, set in Macondo, but couldn't find the voice for it, until he had a sudden inspiration to base it on the way his grandmother used to tell stories. He said, "She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness…. I discovered I had to…write [the stories] with the same expression with which my grandmother told them: with a brick face." His epic mixture of realism and fantasy became his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), which has since sold millions of copies. He now lives in Mexico City and in Bogata, Colombia.

It's the birthday of publisher Richard Leo Simon, born in New York City, New York (1899). In 1921, he made a piano sales call to a man named Max Lincoln Schuster. He didn't sell him a piano, but they found they had the love of music and the love of books in common, and they became fast friends. Simon switched from selling pianos to selling books, and eventually the two friends pooled their savings of eight thousand dollars to open their own publishing firm called, appropriately enough, Simon and Schuster. They engaged in what Simon called "planned publishing": they thought up marketable ideas and then commissioned people to write them.

It's the birthday of journalist and author Ring(gold) Lardner, born in Niles, Michigan (1885). After high school, Lardner worked at a variety of jobs, until he was hired as a sports reporter for the South Bend Times in Indiana, and went on to work for the Chicago Examiner and the Chicago Tribune. He went on the road with the White Sox, where he began to concentrate on the personalities of the players, rather than the games. From 1913 to 1919, he wrote a weekly sports column called "In the Wake of the News," but gained national fame for a series of letters he wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, satirizing the hero status given to sports figures by the public. The letters were supposedly from a White Sox rookie pitcher named Jack Keefe, who had a mediocre talent, a large ego, and not much else. The letters were later collected in three books, You Know Me, Al (1916), Treat 'Em Rough (1918), and The Real Dope (1919). Lardner died of a heart attack at the age of forty-eight.

It's the birthday of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, born in Durham, England (1806). A young poet, Robert Browning, read her poems and sent her an admiring letter. Eventually, he came to court her, and in 1846, when she was forty and he was thirty-four, they married - in secret and against her father's wishes - and ran away to Italy. Over the next few years, Barrett Browning wrote her most famous volume of poetry, Sonnets from the Portuguese (1958), which included the lines: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

It's the birthday of sculptor, painter, and poet Michelangelo, born in Caprese, Italy (1475). In the late 1490s, he went to Rome, where he was able to examine many newly unearthed statues and ruins. He completed the Pieta for Saint Peter's Basilica. He was twenty-three at the time, and when he delivered the sculpture, he overheard someone say that he was too young to have created such a work. He then chiseled his name on the piece, the only work he ever signed. In 1504, he completed one of his best-known statues, the huge marble David, which became the symbol of the city of the Florence. The following year, he was commissioned by Pope Julius the Second to paint the frescoes of Sistine Chapel ceiling. For four years, Michelangelo lay on his back on scaffolding, depicting nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, with paint and fresh plaster dripping onto his face.

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
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show