Apr. 30, 2005

Morning Glories

by Mary Oliver

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Poem: "Morning Glories" by Mary Oliver from White Pine. © Harvest/Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich. Reprinted with permission.

The text of this poem is no longer available.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the anniversary of the first inauguration in the history of the country. In 1789, George Washington was sworn in as first president of the United States. The inauguration took place in New York City, the temporary seat of the new federal government, though most people in the country felt that New York was the wrong city for the capital. It had been very pro-British during the revolution. Upper class New Yorkers imitated the British in their clothing and their interior decorating. Many New Yorkers even still celebrated the king's birthday.

As for General Washington, he was reluctant to be inaugurated at all. He was worried that he might be a complete failure as a president. He said, "I feel like a culprit who is going to the place of his execution."

He wanted to make a quiet entry into New York, but instead, his week-long journey from Virginia up to New York became a giant parade, there were crowds as he passed through each town, portraits put up all over, his initials G.W. on buttons. He took a barge across the Hudson from New Jersey to New York with a boat full of musicians next to him, cannons being fired from the shore. They landed at the foot of Wall Street on the East River, marched up Wall Street, and then to the new Presidential Residence on Cherry Street.

A few days later came the inauguration ceremony on the balcony of Federal Hall. Thousands of people were out in the streets, and Washington stepped out onto the balcony, not in a military uniform but in a plain brown suit made with cloth from a mill in Connecticut. He took the oath and then Robert Livingston shouted, "Long live George Washington, President of the United States!" Washington walked back inside Federal Hall, addressed the Senate chamber with one of the shortest inaugural speeches in American history, just 1,200 words long. There was a big fireworks display that night, and when it was over, the president had to walk home on foot because the streets were too crowded for his carriage.

The Bible that he swore his oath on has been used by many other presidents, including Harding, Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and both presidents Bush.

It was on this day in 1939, the New York World's Fair opened to the public, called The World of Tomorrow, on a fair ground in Flushing Meadows.

World War II was on the horizon in Europe, and the World's Fair of 1939 was where thousands of Americans got a glimpse of the world that would await them after the war. It was their first look at television: President Roosevelt giving a speech at the opening of the fair. The Medicine and Public Health buildings showed a machine that could keep the heart of a chicken beating. Air conditioners were shown, FM radio, fluorescent lighting, dishwashers, and an early helicopter called an autogiro were all on display. There were dioramas showing model utopian cities of the future, with fax machines and videophones.

It's the birthday of the poet John Crowe Ransom, Pulaski, Tennessee (1888).

It was on this day in 1900, the legendary Casey Jones died in a train wreck of the Cannonball Express, running from Memphis to Canton, Mississippi.

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




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