Sep. 11, 2002

Eden Rock

by Charles Causley

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Poem: "Eden Rock," by Charles Causley from Collected Poems (David Highom Associates).

Eden Rock

They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden
My father, twenty-five, in the same suit
Of Genuine Irish Tweed, his terrier Jack
Still two years old and trembling at his feet.

My mother, twenty-three, in a sprigged dress
Drawn at the waist, ribbon in her straw hat,
Has spread the stiff white cloth over the grass.
Her hair, the colour of wheat, takes on the light.

She pours tea from a Thermos, the milk straight
From an old H.P. sauce-bottle, a screw
Of paper for a cork; slowly sets out
The same three plates, the tin cups painted blue.

The sky whitens as if lit by three suns.
My mother shades her eyes and looks my way
Over the drifted stream. My father spins
A stone along the water. Leisurely,
They beckon to me from the other bank.
I hear them call, 'See where the stream-path is!
Crossing is not as hard as you might think.'

I had not thought that it would be like this.

It's the birthday of Sir James Hopwood Jeans, born in London, England in 1877.

It's the birthday of James Thomson, the author of "Rule Britannia," born in Ednam, Roxburgh, Scotland (1700), and of Alfred Slote, the author of children's sports fiction books, born in New York City in 1926.

It's the birthday of Brian De Palma, born in Newark, New Jersey (1940). A screenwriter and director, he is known for horror-suspense movies such as The Untouchables and Dressed to Kill.

It's the birthday of D. H. Lawrence, born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England (1885). He spent most of his life sick, fighting tuberculosis after having bronchitis when he was a child. He described his childhood self as "a delicate pale brat with a snuffy nose, whom most people treated quite gently as just an ordinary delicate little lad." One day as a young man, when he was doing menial work at the Haywood factory of surgical appliances and artificial limbs, he was attacked by a large group of factory girls, known for their aggression, who tried to tear off his clothes. He had to fight them off, scratching and biting them and tearing their dresses. He later wrote about this scene in his piece, "Tickets, Please." His work was known for its sexual explicitness and for its introduction of Freudian themes into the English novel, with his novel Sons and Lovers. He eloped with Frieda von Richthofen Weekley, the wife of his favorite English professor at University College in Nottingham. She had fallen in love with him when they were on a walk in the country shortly after they met, and she watched as he played with her children, sailing paper boats down a stream.

It's the birthday of William Sydney Porter, whose pen name is O. Henry. He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina (1862). He became known for his ironic short stories, which he published under the pen name O. Henry to disguise his shameful identity. He set many of his stories in New York City, and often created characters that proudly defend it against others that express skepticism. In one story the narrator, who is from the Bowery in New York City says, "I have lived in it nearly thirty years, and I am just beginning to understand its heartbeats. It is like a great river fed by a hundred alien streams…It was my cradle and is my inspiration."

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