Dec. 1, 2005

The Well Dressed Man with a Beard

by Wallace Stevens

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Poem:"The Well Dressed Man with a Beard," by Wallace Stevens from Collected Poems. (Knopf).

The Well Dressed Man with a Beard

After the final no there comes a yes
And on that yes the future world depends.
No was the night. Yes is this present sun.
If the rejected things, the things denied,
Slid over the western cataract, yet one,
One only, one thing that was firm, even
No greater than a cricket's horn, no more
Than a thought to be rehearsed all day, a speech
Of the self that must sustain itself on speech,
One thing remaining, infallible, would be
Enough. Ah! douce campagna of that thing!
Ah! douce campagna, honey in the heart,
Green in the body, out of a petty phrase,
Out of a thing believed, a thing affirmed:
The form on the pillow humming while one sleeps,
he aureole above the humming house . . .

It can never be satisfied, the mind, never.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day in 1913, the first gas station in the United States opened at the corner of Baum Boulevard and St. Clair Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It sold just thirty gallons of gas the first day it was open, at twenty-seven cents a gallon. It was a brick building with a little pagoda on top, and it offered free air for tires, restrooms, and twenty-four hour service.

On this day in 1860, the first installment of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations was published in the journal All the Year Round.

On this day in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first story about Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual.

On this day in 1859, a Norwegian immigrant wrote from California to his mother Trondhjem, "I am now living in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and you cannot imagine a more romantic country, rich as it is in the most magnificent scenery. I wish you could make a trip up here in the spring and see the flowers that cover every inch of ground... On Sunday, which is here the busiest trading day in the week, you often see the hardy miners on their way to the grocery store with bouquets of these flowers in their hands. Arriving at the store, each miner compares his bouquet with those of the others, and if there is a lady present, which is rarely the case, she is immediately chosen as judge of the flowers. But the prize for the finest bouquet is, it grieves me to report, whisky..."

It's the birthday of Woody Allen, born in Brooklyn in 1935. As a child he was very shy, he hated school and spent most of his free time alone in his room practicing magic tricks and his clarinet. He went to NYU where he failed his Motion Picture Production class, but in 1978, Allen's film Annie Hall won the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actress. He said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying."

It's the birthday of American detective novelist Rex Stout, born in Noblesville, Indiana (1886). He wrote over 70 novels, and 46 of them featured Nero Wolfe, an eccentric detective who weighs almost 300 pounds.

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




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