Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
by Edgar Allan Poe
At morn—at noon—at twilight dim—
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
In joy and wo—in good and ill—
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the Hours flew brightly by,
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
Now, when storms of Fate o’ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,
Let my Future radiant shine
“With sweet hopes of thee and thine!
“Hymn” by Edgar Allan Poe. Public domain. (buy now)
It is the birthday of one of the first well-known female mathematicians of the Western world. Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born in Milan (1718). Her father, Pietro, was a wealthy businessman and her mother, Anna Fortunata Brivio, was an aristocrat whom her father married to raise his status in Milanese society.
Maria was a brilliant child. By age five, she spoke French as well as her native Italian. A few years later, she was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and her family called her the “Walking Polyglot.” At age nine, she addressed a group of academics in Latin on the subject of women’s rights and access to education, and soon she was leading complex philosophical discussions between her father and his scholarly friends. She also began to pursue mathematics.
Maria was shy and devout, and she longed to give up her public speaking and enter a convent. Her religious aspirations were dashed, however, when her mother died and she was left in charge of the household, caring for her many siblings.
She maintained her interest in math and philosophy. In 1738, she published Propositiones Philosophicae, a collection of essays based on the talks she gave to her father’s circle of friends. That same year, she began working on a math textbook that she could use to teach math to her siblings. But the book grew into more than just a teaching tool. In it she wrote an equation for a specific bell-shaped curve that is still used today. The textbook was published as Analytical Institutions in 1748. It was highly regarded in academic circles for synthesizing complex mathematical ideas with clarity and precision.
It was on this day in 1836 that 27-year-old Edgar Allan Poe (books by this author) married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia, in a ceremony at a Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. On the marriage license, they listed her age as 21. Then the couple headed 20 miles south for a honeymoon in Petersburg, along the Appomattox River.
It was by all accounts a mutually adoring and loving relationship, though some scholars have speculated (perhaps optimistically) that the couple never actually consummated their marriage. She became ill with tuberculosis and soon was an invalid. The state of her health, which would improve and then worsen, plunged Edgar Allan Poe into dark depression. He wrote to his friend: “Each time I felt all the agonies of her death — and at each accession of the disorder I loved her more dearly & clung to her life with more desperate pertinacity. I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
In her early 20s, the tuberculosis symptoms flared up again, and this time people held little hope for her recovery. One person who visited her bedside wrote: “Mrs. Poe looked very young; she had large black eyes, and a pearly whiteness of complexion, which was a perfect pallor. Her pale face, her brilliant eyes, and her raven hair gave her an unearthly look.” Virginia told Edgar that after she died she would be his guardian angel. She lived to be 24 years old.
Most Poe scholars agree that Virginia was the inspiration for his great poem “Annabel Lee,” about the death of a beautiful girl whom he loved.
The poem begins:
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
And it’s the birthday of American poet Adrienne Rich, (books by this author) born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1929. In her lifetime, she wrote more than 20 collections, including The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (1955), Diving into the Wreck (1973), and Tonight No Poetry Will Serve (2011). She was known for her feminism and her politically charged poetry. She said: “I have been a poet of the oppositional imagination, meaning that I don’t think my only argument is with myself. My work is for people who want to imagine and claim wider horizons and carry on about them into the night, rather than rehearse the landlocked details of personal quandaries or the price for which the house next door just sold.”
Rich died in 2012 at the age of 82.
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