Apr. 20, 2008


by John Clare

The Flower

by George Herbert

The water-lilies on the meadow stream
   Again spread out their leaves of glossy green;
And some, yet young, of a rich copper gleam,
   Scarce open, in the sunny stream are seen,
Throwing a richness upon Leisure's eye,
   That thither wanders in a vacant joy;
While on the sloping banks, luxuriantly,
   Tending of horse and cow, the chubby boy,
In self-delighted whims, will often throw
   Pebbles, to hit and splash their sunny leaves;
Yet quickly dry again, they shine and glow
   Like some rich vision that his eye deceives;
Spreading above the water, day by day,
In dangerous deeps, yet out of danger's way.

        from The Flower

       How fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
   Are Thy returns! even as the flowers in Spring,
         To which, besides their own demean,
    The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring;
                        Grief melts away
                       Like snow in May,
          As if there were no such cold thing.

   Who would have thought my shriveled heart
  Could have recovered greenness? It was gone
       Quite underground; as flowers depart
To see their mother-root, when they have blown,
                     Where they together
                     All the hard weather,
      Dead to the world, keep house unknown.

               And now in age I bud again,
         After so many deaths I live and write;
          I once more smell the dew and rain,
         And relish versing: O, my only Light,
                          It cannot be
                         That I am he
          On whom thy tempests fell all night.

"Water-Lilies" by John Clare. Public domain. & an excerpt from "The Flower" by George Herbert. Public domain.

In 1841, on this day, the first detective story was published. In his story The Murders in the Rue Morgue, published in Graham's Magazine, Edgar Allan Poe (books by this author) created mystery's first fictional detective, C. Auguste Dupin. The story introduced many of the elements of mysteries that are still popular today: the genius detective, the not-so-smart sidekick, the plodding policeman and the use of the red herring to lead readers off the track.

It's the birthday of musician (Ernest Anthony) Tito Puente, born in New York, New York (1923). He became known as the Mambo King.

Puente always saw his music in terms of dance. He said, "I think as a dancer, not a musician. [I ask], 'How would it look as a dance?'" Even when recording his hundredth album, he insisted that the music be recorded live, with the entire orchestra present, as opposed to one section at a time, the way most recording is now done. When his agent suggested this might waste time, Puente replied, "You don't understand. … I'm a dancer. I must dance in the studio while the whole thing is playing to see if it really works."

It's the birthday of science fiction writer Ian Watson, (books by this author) born in St. Albans, England (1943). He's known for his Black River/Yaleen trilogy: The Book of the River (1984), The Book of the Stars (1984), and The Book of Being (1985).

It's the birthday of artist Joan Miró, born in Barcelona, Spain (1893). He became known for his colorful, surrealistic paintings that combined abstract shapes with plants, animals, and people.

It's the birthday of one of the founders of psychiatry, Philippe Pinel, born in Saint-André, France (1745). He studied mathematics, theology, and internal medicine before becoming the chief physician at a Paris insane asylum in 1792. Before Pinel arrived, conditions at the asylum were horrible: Patients were chained to the walls like animals, and people could pay a fee to come in and watch them.

Pinel put a stop to these practices, as well as misguided treatments like bleeding, purging, and blistering. Popular theory at the time held that the insane were possessed by demons, but Pinel argued that they were just under social and psychological stresses. He started treating patients by talking to them about their problems in intense conversations on a regular basis, which paved the way for modern psychiatric practices.

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