Apr. 4, 2013


by Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
    Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
    From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
    A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
    You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
    Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
    They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
    Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
    Yea, beds for all who come.

"Up-Hill" by Christina Rossetti, from Poems. © Everyman's Library, 1993. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1818 that Congress decided the U.S. flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state.

It's the birthday of novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter Marguerite Duras (books by this author), born near in a small village in French Indochina near what is now Saigon, Vietnam in 1914. Her parents were teachers, but her dad became ill there and died. Dumas had an impoverished miserable childhood in which she was abused by her mother and brother.

When she was a teenager, she became lovers with a wealthy, older Chinese man, whom she met on a ferry boat between Sa Dec and Saigon. She wrote about him in her books The Sea Wall (1953), North China Lover (1991), and The Lover published in 1984.

Marguerite Duras said, "When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life."

It's the birthday of Maya Angelou (books by this author), born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis in 1928, whose 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was a big best-seller. It begins:

"When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed — "To Whom It May Concern" — that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson. Our parents had decided to put an end to their calamitous marriage, and Father shipped us home to his mother."

It was on this day in 1968 that Martin Luther King Jr. (books by this author) was assassinated standing on the balcony of his room on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis at 6:01 in the evening. He'd gone to Memphis to support a strike by 1,300 black sanitation workers, and the night before he'd given a speech at the Masonic Temple in Memphis in which he said:

"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop ... I just want to do God's will ... I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."

It's the birthday of blues great Muddy Waters, born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Mississippi (1915), who taught himself to play harmonica and guitar, played on the south side of Chicago in bars, and in 1950, he made the first recording for Chess Records, a tune called "Rolling Stone."

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