Jan. 9, 2003

On a Night of Snow

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

(RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "On a Night of Snow," by Elizabeth Coatsworth.

On a Night of Snow

Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet -
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar -
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!

It's the birthday of novelist Judith Krantz, born in New York City, New York (1927). Before she achieved her phenomenal success as an author, Krantz was a fashion editor for Good Housekeeping magazine, then a freelance journalist. It wasn't until she was 51, and her children were grown, that she wrote her first book. She began working on a novel, writing six-and-a-half hours a day, five days a week. After nine months, her book, Scruples, was completed. It was published in March of 1978 and four months later became number one on The New York Times bestseller list, and remained there for almost one year. Her other works include Princess Daisy (1980), Mistral's Daughter, and her autobiography, Sex and Shopping: Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl (2000). She said: "I have only one reader -- me. I'm the average reader. If I like it, that's all I worry about."

It's the birthday of cartoonist Murat Bernard "Chic" Young, born in Chicago, Illinois (1901). He originally created the comic strip "Blondie" about a jazz-age flapper who marries a playboy from a prominent family. But the strip soon changed direction: two children and a dog were added to the cast, the family became middle-class, and Dagwood became a regular working stiff.

It's the birthday of adventurer and travel writer Richard Halliburton, born in Brownsville, Tennessee (1900). The only child of a well-to-do family, he left home to embark on a career of dare-devil deeds, including riding an elephant over the Alps, flying a crimson red bi-plane upside down over the Taj Mahal, swimming the length of the Panama Canal, and laughing in the face of danger for more than twenty years. He wrote about his adventures in books like The Royal Road to Romance (1925), The Flying Carpet (1932), and Seven League Boots (1935). By the mid-1930s, his books were so popular that his publishers gave him a blank check to travel wherever he wanted and do whatever he pleased -- as long as he promised to write about it afterward. In 1939, he was attempting to sail a Chinese junk from Hong Kong to San Francisco when he sent this message: "Southerly gales, squalls, lee rail under water, wet bunks, hard tack, bully beef, wish you were here instead of me." He was never heard from again.

It's the birthday of novelist, short story writer, and playwright Karel Capek, born in Bohemia, now part of Czechoslovakia (1890). A writer of novels, visionary romances, travel books, stories, and essays, Karel is best known for his plays, especially R.U.R. (1921), which introduced the word "robot," to the world. He got the idea when he was reading while riding in an automobile. He looked up from his reading and suddenly the crowds looked to him like artificial beings. At the premiere of R.U.R., audiences and critics were both fascinated and terrified by its vision of a technically advanced society unable to control its ultimate labor-saving creation, the robot.

It's the birthday of playwright Brian Friel, born Bernard Patrick Friel, near Omagh, Country Tyrone, Northern Ireland (1929). In 1959, his short stories began to appear in the New Yorker magazine, which gave him the courage to give up his teaching and start writing full time. His first major play was Philadelphia, Here I Come!, produced on Broadway in 1966. Other major works include Translations (1980), and Dancing at Lughnasa (1990).

It's the birthday of writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir, born in Paris, France (1908). She is best known for her influential study of women in society, The Second Sex, published in 1949. The book is considered to be one of the most important treatise on women's rights.

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




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