May 26, 2002

812 A Light exists in Spring

by Emily Dickinson

SUNDAY, 26 MAY 2002
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Poem: "A Light exists in Spring," by Emily Dickinson.

A Light exists in Spring

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period-
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay-

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

It's the birthday of astrophysicist, astronaut, and author, Sally Ride, born in Encino, California (1951), whose early ambition was to become a professional tennis player. In 1983, she flew for six days aboard the space shuttle Challenger. She is currently a physics professor at the University of California at San Diego and has written five children's books: To Space and Back (1989); Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System (1992), The Third Planet: Exploring the Earth from Space (1994), The Mystery of Mars (1999), and Exploring Our Solar System (2002).

It's the birthday of editor and poet Michael Benedikt, born in New York City, New York (1935).

It's the birthday of actor, playwright, and author Robert Morley, born in Semley, Wiltshire, England (1908). He first appeared on the London stage in 1929, playing a pirate for five pounds a week. His first real success came when he played the title role in Oscar Wilde, a courtroom drama based on Wilde's libel trials. Shortly thereafter, Morley set off for Hollywood to appear opposite Norma Shearer as King Louis the Sixteenth in Marie Antoinette, a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. He appeared in many films, including The African Queen (1951), in which he played Katharine Hepburn's naïve missionary father. Morley also wrote several books of reminiscences, including Morley Marvels: Memoirs, Notes, and Essays of the Famed Actor, Raconteur, Collector, Hotel Guest, and Man of Leisure (1976). He once wrote: "I have little patience with anyone who is not self-satisfied. I am always pleased to see my friends, happy to be with my wife and family, but the high spot of every day is when I first catch a glimpse of myself in the shaving mirror."

It's the birthday of photographer and author Dorothea Lange, born in Hoboken, New Jersey (1895). In 1918, she decided she could earn her way around the world taking pictures. She got as far as San Francisco, where she opened a portrait studio, and later met and married the painter Maynard Dixon. But by the late 1920s, she was too disturbed by the Depression to make photographs of rich clients. She began to go out on the street, and took what became one of the most famous photographs of the time, called White Angel Breadline. It depicted a crowd of well-dressed, newly unemployed men waiting for food on a bread line. In 1937, Lange was hired by the Farm Security Administration and took her famous photograph that became a symbol of the Depression years, Migrant Mother, which showed a prematurely aged woman in a tattered tent with her children.

In 1897 on this day, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was published. Stoker added several chilling details to the age-old vampire tale: that the undead show no reflection in a mirror, that they shun garlic, and that they can be killed only by a stake through the heart.

In 1868 on this day, President Andrew Johnson was acquitted on impeachment. Following Lincoln's assassination, Johnson, a white Southerner, wanted Congress to permit representatives who passed loyalty test to regain their old seats. He also opposed legislation that would protect the rights of ex-slaves in the South. Johnson tried to fire his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton. Congress responded by impeaching the President for "high crimes and misdemeanors." After a trial that lasted several months, the Senate found Johnson not guilty.

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