Dec. 9, 2002


by Fred Chappell

Grace Before Meat

by Fred Chappell

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Poem: "Grace Before Meat," and "Another," by Fred Chappell from The World Between the Eyes (Louisiana State University).

Grace Before Meat

As this noon our meat we carve,
Bless us better than we deserve.


Bless, O Lord, our daily bread.
Bless those in hunger and in need
Of strength. Bless all who stand in want.
Bless us who pray, bless us who can't.

It's the birthday of illustrator and author Jean de Brunhoff, born in Paris (1899). He is known for his stories about Babar the Elephant, which he based on a bedtime story told to his two sons by their imaginative mother.

On this day in 1854, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem, "The Charge of the Light Brigade," was published in England:

"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."

It's the birthday of the author of Uncle Remus, Joel Chandler Harris, born in Eatonton, Georgia (1848). He started out in the newspaper business at the age of thirteen. He became a printer's helper and began writing for the Savannah Morning News where he wrote a column made up of jokes. After many years of that, at the age of thirty-one he developed a character, Uncle Remus, a slave who told old folk tales, many of which centered on the sinister deeds of Brer Rabbit. They were collected into a book in 1880, Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings: Folklore of the Old Plantation.

It's the birthday of poet and essayist John Milton, born in London, England (1608). Milton is considered to be one of the five greatest poets in the English language. He wrote his great works in old age. He was fifty-nine years old when he wrote Paradise Lost (1667), followed by Paradise Regained (1671), and Samson Agonistes (1671). Paradise Lost is the story of Adam and Eve, God and Satan, and what happened when Satan, the most beautiful of angels, was expelled from Heaven. Paradise Lost, which begins with the words:

"Of Man's First Disobedience, and the Fruit Of that
Forbidden Tree, whose mortal taste Brought Death into the
World, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater
Man Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat, Sing Heav'nly

John Milton, who also wrote:

"What in me is dark
Illumine, what is low raise and support,
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men."

Milton began his literary career at the age of eighteen by writing elaborate and rather soppy elegies to great men who had died. In 1643, in the midst of a very unhappy marriage, Milton published a pamphlet called The Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce. In it, he argued that adultery should not be the only legal justification for divorce -- incompatibility should suffice as well.

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




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