Jun. 12, 2008


by Edwin Denby

I don't know any more what it used to be
Before I saw you at table sitting across from me
All I can remember is I saw you look at me
And I couldn't breathe and I hurt so bad I couldn't see.

I couldn't see but just your looking eyes
And my ears was buzzing with a thumping noise
And I was scared the way everything went rushing around
Like I was all alone, like I was going to drown.

There wasn't nothing left except the light of your face,
There might have been no people, there might have been no place,
Like as if a dream were to be stronger than thought
And could walk into the sun and be stronger than aught.

Then someone says something and then you spoke
And I couldn't hardly answer up, but it sounded like a croak
So I just sat still and nobody knew
That since that happened all of everything is you.

"Song" by Edwin Denby from The Complete Poems. © Random House, New York, 1986. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Cosimo I de' Medici, born in Florence, Italy, in 1519. The Medici family was a major power in Florence from the 13th to the 17th century — a family who helped make Florence a place that was strong politically and economically, but also a place where art could thrive, a place where the Italian Renaissance was born. Cosimo I became the Duke of Florence at age 17, and like so many of his family members, Cosimo I was a major patron of the arts. He built the Uffizi building, and it became the home of the Medici family's personal art collection, and it is now one of the greatest art galleries in the world. He purchased and expanded the Pitti Palace, which became the home of the Medici family for hundreds of years after him, and he created the famous Boboli Gardens behind the palace for his wife Eleonora.

Today is Russia Day. It was on this day in 1990 that the Russian parliament declared sovereignty from the Soviet Union.

It's the birthday of the children's author Johanna Spyri, (books by this author) born in the village of Hirzel, Switzerland, in the year 1827. She wrote many stories and novels for children, but she is best known as the author of Heidi, the story of an orphan girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Alps, where she plays with goats and sleeps in a hayloft and gets into trouble. When a cosmopolitan relative brings Heidi back to Frankfurt so that she can get a real education, Heidi gets homesick for the fresh air, for the simple life of the mountains, so she goes back to her grandfather. Heidi has been translated into more than 40 languages, and it is the most popular work of Swiss literature.

It's the birthday of Anne Frank, born in 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. It was on this day in 1942 that she received a red and white plaid journal, from her father, for her 13th birthday, and she started to write her diary, a diary that she called by the name of "Kitty." A few weeks after she started her diary, Anne's older sister Margot got a notice to report to a Jewish work camp, so the Franks went into hiding in an annex in Amsterdam. They couldn't bring suitcases, because it would look suspicious, so Anne had to wear two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress, a skirt, a jacket, a summer coat, two pairs of stockings, a wool hat, and a scarf-even though it was July. Four other people lived in the annex with Anne and her family, and they lived there together for two years. They had family friends who helped them survive, who brought them food and supplies. Anne wrote about being scared, and about injustice, and about missing the sunshine; and she also wrote about things that many 13-year-olds write about in their diaries. She wrote about how mad she got at her mother, and how she wanted privacy; she wrote about her crush on the teenage boy she lived with, and how she thought it was unfair that her parents liked Margot best.

In August of 1944, someone tipped off the Nazis, and they raided the apartment and sent everyone to concentration camps. Anne died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen just a few weeks before British troops came to liberate the camp; and of the eight people who lived in the annex together, only one, Anne's father, Otto, survived. Otto returned to Amsterdam, and a family friend told Otto that she had found Anne's diary in the annex after the Nazis had left. Anne wrote in the diary that she wanted to have it published, and so Otto wanted to try and honor his daughter's wishes. It took a while and was rejected by several publishers, but it was published in Germany in 1947, and the United States in 1952. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has sold more than 25 million copies, and it is considered the second-best-selling nonfiction book in history, after the Bible.

Anne Frank, who wrote, "Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love!"

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




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