Aug. 29, 2002


by Philip Appleman

To Daffodils

by Robert Herrick

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Poem: "To Daffadills," by Robert Herrick and "Eulogy," by Philip Appleman from New and Selected Poems (University of Arkansas Press).

To Daffadills

Faire Daffadills, we weep to see
          You haste away so soone:
As yet the early-rising Sun
          Has not attain'd his Noone.
                    Stay, stay,
              Untill the hasting day
                    Has run
              But to the Even-song;
And, having pray'd together, we
              Will goe with you along.

          We have short time to stay, as you,
              We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet Decay,
              As you, or any thing.
                    We die,
    As your hours doe, and drie
          Like to the Summeres raine;
Or as the pearles of Mornings dew,
              Ne'er to be found again.


That swain in Shakespeare, penning ballads
to his lady's eyebrow: if just once
he could have seen my sweetheart's breasts,
he would have written epics. Oh,
they are so springtime sweet and summer-lilting,
those twin blossoms, I should have found
a painter intimate with tender shades
of pink and cream
to immortalize their harmony.

up there on the seventh floor
they are cutting one of them away,
the one we touched last week and felt
the poisoned pearl.
Now the knives are working, working,
I feel them stabbing through my flesh.
She will come back gray, remembering
to smile, the bandages weeping blood,
her beauty scarred,
her life saved.

I will love her more
than yesterday.

On this day in 1997, the Japanese historian Saburo Ienaga won a landmark decision for freedom of speech in Japan's Supreme Court. Ienaga said he had grown up in ignorance of the atrocities committed by Japanese troops in Asia during the Second World War, and he wanted to make sure the generations after his would know exactly what had happened. He wrote high school textbook passages that explained clearly how Japanese officers had brutalized civilians-which the Ministry of Education then cut-and he used the phrase "military aggression," which the Ministry kept changing to "military advance." Asked to comment on the decision, another Japanese novelist said, "A country that tell lies in its textbooks is bound to collapse." Last year Ienaga was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

It's the birthday of Thom Gunn, born in Gravesend, England (1929). He grew up in England and started writing poetry at Cambridge, but came to the United States shortly afterward, and has lived for the last forty-five years in the Bay Area.

On this day in 1921, Eudora Welty, age twelve, won the Jackie Mackie Jingle Contest. The contest was sponsored by Mackie Pine Oil Specialty Company. Along with a check for twenty-five dollars, they sent a letter encouraging Welty to "improve in poetry to such an extent as to win fame."

It's the birthday of Charlie Parker, born in Kansas City, Kansas (1920). Before Parker, jazz meant swing, melodies played at dance tempos by musicians in big orchestras who never got to take solos for very long. Late at night, after their big band jobs were over, Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and other black musicians kept on playing, improvising long lines at blazing speed. Parker used a lot of flatted fifths, and jazz players used the word "bebop" to sing a flatted fifth, but Parker didn't like to use the word for the way he played. "Let's not call it bebop," he said. "Let's just call it music."

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




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