Feb. 15, 2005

709 Publication -- is the Auction

by Emily Dickinson

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Poem: "Publication-is the Auction Of the Mind of Man" by Emily Dickinson.

Publication-is the Auction of the Mind of Man

Publication-is the Auction
Of the Mind of Man-
Poverty-be justifying
For so foul a thing

Possibly-but We-would rather
From Our Garret go
White-Unto the White Creator-
Than invest-Our Snow-

Thought belong to Him who gave it-
Then-to Him Who bear
Its Corporeal illustration-Sell
The Royal Air-

In the Parcel-Be the Merchant
Of the Heavenly Grace-
But reduce no Human Spirit
To Disgrace of Price-

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of American Cartoonist Matt Groening, born in Portland, Oregon (1954). Inspired by his cartoonist father, he grew up drawing. He spent his college years at Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, then moved to Los Angeles where he developed a comic strip he called "Life in Hell" (1980). Within a year, the strip was syndicated in 20 newspapers; 6 years after that (1987), he created an animated family he named "The Simpsons" for the Fox network's Tracy Ullman Show.

It's the birthday of American composer and pianist Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), born in Buffalo (1905), the son of a musician. At 7 he sang in the synagogue choir; by 15 his own trio was playing dance dates around Buffalo. In the mid-1920s he met lyricist Ted Koehler; they collaborated on such tunes as "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "I've Got the World on A String." Among his many Broadway and Hollywood songs are "It's Only A Paper Moon," "That Old Black Magic," and "Over the Rainbow."

It's the birthday of American reformer Susan B(rownell) Anthony, born in Adams, Massachusetts (1820)—a schoolteacher and liberal Quaker who opposed slavery and favored "temperance." Working for the Anti-Slavery Society (1856-1861), she campaigned for women's rights, including their right to vote. In 1869 she organized the National Woman Suffrage Association with her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At 80 she retired as president of the National Woman Suffrage Association but remained an advocate and public speaker until her death in 1906.

It's the birthday of California settler John Sutter, born Johann August Suter in Kandern, Germany (1803). After spending his youth in Switzerland, he settled in what is now California but was then Mexico, persuading the Mexican government to grant him 49,000 acres of land. He built Sutter's Fort (1841), which fur trappers and Native Americans used as a hotel and trading post. After the Mexican-American War ended (1846), California was annexed by the United States. Two years later, a carpenter discovered gold on Sutter's land—which, in spite of an attempt to keep it secret, ignited the Gold Rush of 1849.

It's the birthday of Italian astronomer Galileo (Galilei), born in Pisa (1564). He devised a simple open-air thermometer (1607), but his greatest breakthrough was to build an improved refracting telescope (1609), with which he clearly confirmed the view of Copernicus, who insisted Aristotle was wrong, the Earth was not the center of things; the Sun was. Galileo's books were banned; he was summoned to Rome, to be tried for heresy. In 1633 he was convicted, sentenced to house arrest for life, and his books were ordered burned. He was forced either to renounce all his Copernican beliefs or be tortured on the rack. While signing his declaration that the earth was stationary, he muttered, "And yet... it moves." Confined to his home, he continued to study physics and astronomy, until, in his seventies, he grew completely blind.

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