Oct. 13, 2002

The Pulley

by George Herbert

(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "The Pulley," by George Herbert.

The Pulley

      When God at first made Man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by -
Let us (said He) pour on him all we can;
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie
      Contract into a span.

      So strength first made a way,
Then beauty flow'd, then wisdom, honour, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all His treasure,
      Rest in the bottom lay.

      For if I should (said He)
Bestow this jewel also on My creature,
He would adore My gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
      So both should losers be.

      Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
      May toss him to My breast.

It's the birthday of playwright Frank Gilroy, born in the Bronx, New York (1925). He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for his Broadway debut, The Subject was Roses. It is autobiographical, about his experiences as a young Irish-American Bronx-bred teen who enters the army wet-behind-the-ears. He returns as a veteran at age 21 and when he comes home he has a more mature perspective on his dysfunctional family's conflicts.

It's the birthday of jazz pianist Art Tatum, born in Toledo, Ohio (1910), who, blind in one eye, partial sight in the other, learned to read sheet music with the aid of glasses as well as the Braille method.

It's the birthday of novelist and screenwriter Ernest Kellogg Gann, born in Lincoln, Nebraska (1910). He wrote several novels, mostly about flying, that were made into films, including Island in the Sky (1944), and Twilight for the Gods (1958).

It's the birthday of poet, novelist and children's author Arna Bontemps, born in Alexandria, Louisiana (1902). Bontemps was a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance, serving as head librarian at Fisk University from 1969 to 1972, and developing an archive of African American cultural materials that is a major resource for study in this field.

It's the birthday of singer and songwriter Paul Simon, born in Newark, New Jersey (1941). Simon grew up in Queens, New York. His mother was a schoolteacher; his father worked as a jazz bassist for many years. Ultimately, however, his father became bored with the musician's life and entered academia, receiving a doctorate in semantics.At school, a nine-year old Paul heard Art Garfunkel singing, and by the time they were 13, the pair debuted at a school assembly with an a capella version of "Sh-Boom." Soon after they were singing in a street corner doo-wop group called The Sparks, along with three other neighborhood kids. They later changed their name to The Pep-Tones, and then disbanded. They were also regularly performing at school concerts and dances. In 1957, the duo, performing under the name "Tom and Jerry," had their first big hit: Hey Schoolgirl. It was on Billboard's Hot 100 for over two months, peaked at number 54, sold one hundred thousand copies, and got them an appearance on American Bandstand. They recorded their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m., in 1964, then went their separate ways - Simon to law school and Garfunkel to study architecture. Later, they paired back up (as Simon and Garfunkel) and went on to musical success.

It's the birthday of comedian Lenny Bruce, born Leonard Alfred Schneider in Mineola, New York (1925), who became one of the most controversial entertainers of the 1950s and '60s. George Carlin said about him: "...The greatest gift I derived from knowing him and his work was the importance of honesty, in the words and on the stage."

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