Feb. 17, 2003

Drinking French Wine in Middle America

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Poem: "Drinking French Wine in Middle America," by Lawrence Ferlinghetti from How to Paint Sunlight: Lyric Poems and Others (New Directions).

Drinking French Wine in Middle America

Bought a bottle of Vouvray
and poured out its bouquet
of the French countryside
on the plains of Middle America
and that fragrance
floods over me
wafts me back
to that rainy hillside
by the banks of the Loire
Vouvray tiny village
where I sat with rucksack
twenty-eight years old
seafarer student
uncorking the local bottle
with its captured scent of spring
fresh wet flowers
in first spring rain
falling lightly now
upon me-

Where gone that lonesome hiker
fugace fugitive
blindfold romantic
wanderer traumatic
in some Rimbaud illusionation-

The spring rain falls
upon the hillside flowers
lavande and coquelicots
the grey light upon them
in time's pearly gloaming-
Where gone now
and to what homing-
Beardless ghost come back again!

It is the birthday of Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson, born on this day in 1864 in New South Wales, Australia. Writing under the penname "The Banjo," Paterson wrote many poems and songs about the Australian outback in which he grew up. Considered one of the most influential writers in Australia, the most famous of his works is Waltzing Matilda (1895), which later became the country's national anthem.

It is the birthday of Margaret Truman, born in Missouri in 1924, daughter of Harry S, and late in life, author of a series of whodunit novels including Murder in the White House (1980) and Murder in the Library of Congress (1999).

It is the birthday of author Chaim Potok, born in the Bronx in 1929. Though his early childhood interests were drawing and painting, the Orthodox Jewish community considered these a waste of time. For this reason, Potok turned to writing fiction at the age of 16, and he made his first submission to a magazine at 17. He was ordained a rabbi in 1954, and in 1967 published his first and most famous novel, The Chosen (1967), a story of a developing friendship between two Jewish boys. He has written dozens more, most of them based on his own life.

It is the birthday of the woman responsible for introducing the theories of Maria Montessori to America, writer Dorothy Canfield, also known as Dorothy Canfield Fisher, born in rural Kansas in 1879. Her parents moved to Nebraska when she was very young, but her summers were spent in Arlington, Vermont with her uncle. She was the author of many best-selling novels. She spent time in Europe and met Maria Montessori in Italy in 1912, and in the same year, wrote a book about her, A Montessori Mother (1912). This was followed by The Montessori Manual (1913), and Mothers and Children (1914). She promoted the Montessori principles of learning for its own sake. Maria Montessori had taught her that children learn best by doing things, not by passively accepting other people's ideas and pre-existing knowledge. The Montessori method teaches that children learn more by touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, and exploring than by just listening. Canfield once said, "Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you've conquered human nature."

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