Jun. 4, 2012

it may not always be so...

by E. E. Cummings

it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be—
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face, and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

"it may not always be so..." by E.E. Cummings, from 100 Selected Poems. © Grove Press, 1954. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the 40th birthday of novelist Joe Hill (books by this author), born Joseph Hillstrom King in Hermon, Maine (1972). He's the author of two novels — Heart-Shaped Box (2007) and Horns (2010) — and a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts (2005). Hill was named after labor organizer Joe Hill.

He's also the son of horror novelist Stephen King. He used a pen name because he wanted to see if he could make it as a writer on his own merit. "One of the good things about it was that it let me make my mistakes in private," he said. But an article in Variety revealed his true parentage in 2007. Hill also writes comics, including the series Locke and Key (2008), and his next novel is due out in 2013.

On this date in 1896, a young electrical engineer named Henry Ford completed, and successfully tested, his first experimental automobile. He called it the "Quadricycle," because it rolled around on four bicycle tires. He'd been working on it for two years, out in the shed behind his house on Bagley Avenue in Detroit. It was finally ready to test when he hit an unexpected snag: It was too wide to fit through the workshop's door. Ford took an ax to the doorframe and the surrounding bricks, and was soon rolling down Grand River Avenue.

The Quadricycle had a two-cylinder, four-horsepower engine and could achieve speeds up to 20 miles per hour. It had two gears and no brakes. It ran on pure ethanol, and it was steered by the means of a tiller, like a boat. It wasn't much to look at, just a 500-pound skeleton with a steel frame and no body. But the first test drive was a success.

British suffragist Emily Wilding Davison threw herself in front of George V's racehorse Anmer at the Epsom Derby on this date in 1913. Davison intended to stick a suffragette flag to the horse's saddle as he ran past. She crawled under the rail and stepped in front of Anmer and his jockey. She took the full force of the galloping horse and was knocked into the air.

Davison was taken to the hospital, but she never regained consciousness, and she died of her injuries four days later. Many were critical of her actions — the Times of London wrote, "A deed of the kind, is not likely to increase the popularity of any cause with the ordinary public." Even so, 5,000 women marched in her funeral procession and called her "the first martyr to the cause" of women's rights. It would be five more years until British women over 30 gained the right to vote; 10 years after that, they were granted rights equal to those of men.

On this date in 1919, the 19th Amendment passed the Senate. Fifteen months later, it was ratified by the necessary 36 state legislatures, giving American women the right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony drafted the original amendment, with the help of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and it was first formally introduced in 1878. It sat in committee for nine years before it went before the Senate in 1887 and was voted down. Over the next decades, several individual states approved women's voting rights, but a Constitutional amendment wasn't considered again until 1914. It was repeatedly defeated, and an anti-suffrage movement campaigned against it, claiming that it was unfeminine for women to venture outside their natural domestic sphere.

But in 1918, Woodrow Wilson threw his support behind the suffrage movement. Women had entered the workforce in large numbers during World War I, and in a speech that President Wilson gave in September 1918, he said: "We have made partners of the women in this war. Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of right?" The amendment passed both Houses of Congress the following May.

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