Aug. 25, 2010

Excerpt from Paradise Lost

by John Milton

(Eve speaks to Adam)

With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, then silent night
With this her solemn bird and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistring with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight without thee is sweet.

Excerpt from "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. Public domain. (buy now)

It's the birthday of novelist Brian Moore, (books by this author) born in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1921). Not many people have read him, but he's considered by literary critics to be one of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. Three of his books have been short-listed for the Booker Prize, but none of them have won. When he died a decade ago in Malibu, his obituary in the LA Weekly began, "THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED AND LEAST fashionable writer in Los Angeles died last week."

Moore's books include The Luck of Ginger Coffey (1960), I Am Mary Dunne (1968), The Temptation of Eileen Hughes (1981), and The Magician's Wife (1997).

It's the birthday of journalist and novelist Frederick Forsyth (1938), (books by this author) born in Ashford, Kent, England. He wrote The Day of the Jackal (1971), his first book, in 35 days. It was based on the Algerian Crisis in the early 1960s when French President Charles de Gaulle proclaimed Algeria independent from France. Feeling betrayed, leaders of France's Secret Army Organization plotted to kill de Gaulle. The assassin's code name was "Jackal." He's also the author of The Odessa File (1972), The Devil's Alternative (1980), and The Fourth Protocol (1984).

It's the birthday of novelist Martin Amis, (books by this author) born in Oxford, England (1949). He's the author The Rachel Papers (1973), Money (1984), London Fields (1989), and The Information (1995).

It's the birthday of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, born in Lawrence, Massachusetts (1918). His father was a Russian immigrant. He bought and sold beauty supplies, and he discouraged his son from being a musician in favor of taking over the family business. When he was 10, his Aunt Clara was going through a divorce, and she sent her piano to the Bernstein home, and Leonard became a pianist. He got an assistantship with the New York Philharmonic. And on a Sunday afternoon, November 14, 1943, when the conductor Bruno Walter got sick, Leonard Bernstein filled in and got a great review on page one of The New York Times. He became a celebrity at the age of 25.

He wrote scores for many musicals, including "On the Town," "Wonderful Town," "Candide," and "West Side Story."

It's the birthday of the man who created the first detective agency in the United States: Allan Pinkerton, born in Glasgow, Scotland (1819).

He worked as a barrel maker in Scotland, and also participated in a movement trying to help poor disenfranchised laborers get the right to vote in Britain. He exchanged wedding vows with his sweetheart, a Scottish singer, about the same time he heard that British police officers were on their way to arrest him for his role in revolutionary politics. So he and his wife changed their honeymoon plans and fled to America instead.

He settled in Illinois, where he helped law enforcement crack a counterfeit money ring. He became the city of Chicago's first police detective, and a short time later, he started his own private detective business, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. He invented the sting operation and the use of false identities to do undercover work. He chased train robbers. He even chased celebrity outlaw Jesse James, but didn't catch him.

In 1861, Pinkerton stopped a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, who had been elected president but had not yet taken office. Then, during the Civil War, Lincoln employed Pinkerton guards for his own personal security.

Allan Pinkerton died in 1884, just shy of his 65th birthday. He'd slipped on the street, bit his tongue really hard during the fall, and his tongue became so infected that it killed him.

The Pinkerton Agency still exists today, but they're now a subsidiary of the Swedish-based Securitas AB. These days, they install alarm systems, transport cash to and from ATMs, and provide uniformed security guards for things like concerts and shopping malls.

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show