Oct. 24, 2002

Mary Had A Little Lamb

by Sarah Josepha Hale

(RealAudio) | How to listen

: "Mary Had a Little Lamb," by Sarah Josepha Hale.

Mary had a little lamb

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow,
And every where that Mary went
The lamb was sure to go;
He followed her to school one day-
That was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school

And so the Teacher turned him out,
But still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.
And then he ran to her and laid
His head upon her arm,
As if he said-"I'm not afraid,
You'll shield me from all harm."

"What makes the lamb love Mary so,"
The little children cry;
"O, Mary loves the lamb you know,"
The Teacher did reply,
"And you each gentle animal
In confidence may bind,
And make them follow at your call,
If you are always kind."

It's the birthday of biologist Antony van Leeuwenhoek, born in Delft, Holland (1632). He used hand-carved lenses to make the world's most powerful microscopes.

It's the birthday of baseball player and author Jim Brosnan, born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1929). He is the author of two diary-like novels about life in the majors: The Long Season and Pennant Race.

It's the birthday of playwright and screenwriter Moss Hart, born in the Bronx, New York (1904). He wrote several Broadway plays, including You Can't Take It With You, and was the screenwriter for the Best Picture of 1947, Gentleman's Agreement.

It's the birthday of British-American poet and activist Denise Levertov, born in Ilford, Essex, England (1923). During WWII, Denise worked as a civilian nurse in London. In 1946 and 1947, she worked as a tutor, nursemaid, and bookstore employee in France, Switzerland, England, and Holland. In December of 1947, she married traveling Harvard student Mitchell Goodman, and in 1948 they moved to America for good. Her poetry collections include Breathing the Water (1987), Footprints (1972), Here and Now (1957), and Relearning the Alphabet (1970). She taught at several universities and was involved in several anti-war protests over the years-most notably against the Vietnam War.

It's the birthday of American writer Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale, born in Newport, New Hampshire (1788). She wrote two dozen books and hundreds of poems, including Mary and her Lamb, she was responsible for Thanksgiving becoming a national holiday, and she was the first to advocate girl students and women teachers in public education. She helped to establish Vassar College, the first school of collegiate rank for women. She was the first to suggest public playgrounds. She was the first female editor of a national publication-the first major women's periodical, Godey's Lady's Book. All of these achievements occurred after the age of 40. In Newport, formal education was sketchy at best for boys and nonexistent for girls, so Sarah had to be taught at home by her mother. She read "adult" books-The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe at age seven, and History of the American Revolution by Ramsey at age ten. She would read in her favorite spot, a nook under a hazel tree beside the Sugar River. She was fascinated to read a book (Udolpho) that had been written by an American woman-it influenced her greatly. Sarah's older brother attended Dartmouth College, but lived at home. Since college was unavailable to Sarah, as a girl, her brother Horatio shared all his studying and lessons with her at home, and tutoring her during his vacations. When Horatio graduated with top honors in 1809, Sarah had received the equivalent of a college education. In her late teens, Sarah began teaching both boys and girls at a nearby private school, to help her family, who needed money. One morning, Sarah was surprised to see one of her students, Mary, enter the room followed by her pet lamb. The animal was too distracting in Sarah's estimation, so she turned him out. The lamb stayed in the vicinity of the school yard until the end of the school day, and then it ran up to Mary. The other students asked Sarah why the lamb loved Mary so much, and Sarah said that it was because Mary loved the lamb. This gave Sarah cause to write a poem as a moral lesson to her students.

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