We Shall Fight on the Beaches

churchill   
   "We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
 --Winston Churchill

We’ve been looking for an excuse to post excerpts from Winston Churchill’s famous speech since seeing the excellent movie Dunkirk earlier this year. The speech, given to the House of Commons June 4, 1940, ended with a direct call to arms for the U.S. to enter World War II.

Read the full text of the speech here.

On this Veterans Day, we salute all the men and women who answered that call, and who have been answering the call ever since.

Posted in In the News, Power of the Pen Tagged with:

How Not To Re-Write

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“Give me your wealthy, your rich,
your huddled M.B.A.s yearning to be tax-free.
Send these, your English-speaking, fully insured, to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
And lift my leg upon your filthy poor.
P.S. No fatties, please.” —
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, transcribed by The New York Times

Posted in In the News

Independence Day

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

As we celebrate those words, written by Thomas Jefferson over 240 years ago, we wanted to share Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new music video, released just this past week. “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” is a powerful tribute to our nation’s newest Americans.

And for something more traditional, and equally powerful: John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” the official march of the United States of America, performed here by the United States Marine Band.

Check out some vintage recordings of Sousa marches here.

Happy Fourth of July!

Posted in In the News, Power of the Pen

The Poet Laureate’s Solstice

Summer solstice sunrise, Manhattan, 2017

Summer solstice sunrise. Manhattan, 2017.

The summer solstice arrived at 12:24 am EDT (4:24 GMT). On this longest day of the year, here are a few words to ponder by Tracy K. Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and just-announced next poet laureate of the U.S.

Solstice
They're gassing geese outside of JFK.
 Tehran will likely fill up soon with blood
 The Times is getting smaller day by day.
We've learned to back away from all we say
 And, more or less, agree with what we should.
 Whole flocks are being gassed near JFK.
So much of what we're asked is to obey—
 A reflex we'd abandon if we could.
 The Times reported 19 dead today.
They're going to make the opposition pay.
 (If you're sympathetic, knock on wood.)
 The geese were terrorizing JFK.
Remember how they taught you once to pray?
 Eyes closed, on your knees, to any god?
 Sometimes, small minds seem to take the day.
Election fraud. A migratory plague.
 Less and less surprises us as odd.
 We dislike what they did at JFK.
 Our time is brief. We dwindle by the day.
-Tracy K. Smith

And here’s an interesting–and short–New Yorker analysis of the poem:

Posted in The Literary File

Digging – by Seamus Heaney

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day: “Digging,” by Irish poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

 

Posted in Power of the Pen, The Literary File

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