Today is Thursday, April 5, 2018. It’s the birthday of poet Richard Eberhart and of the writer Robert Bloch. And on this date in 1887, Anne Sullivan taught the word “water” to Helen Keller. Our poem for today is by Amy Lowell. It’s titled, “The Giver of Stars.” If you use social media, please consider sharing Bidwell Hollow. We rely on readers like you to help spread the word. Thank you.

Richard Eberhart

Richard Eberhart (affiliate link) was born today in Austin, MN, in 1904. His father was an executive at a meatpacking company. And Eberhart grew up on the family’s estate.

But when he was 18 Eberhart’s mother died of cancer. The family’s fortune disappeared not long after her death.Photo of Richard Eberhart.

Later in life, Eberhart attributed the collective experiences to making him into a poet.

Eberhart graduated from Dartmouth College in 1926. He worked on a tramp steamship and then earned a second undergraduate degree, this time at the University of Cambridge.

In 1929, Eberhart came back to the U.S. He spent a year tutoring the son of the King of Siam (now Thailand). And in 1930, Eberhart published his first book of poems, “A Bravery of Earth.”

Eberhart established by the 1950s an academic career. He taught at many universities and colleges, spending the final few decades of his working life at his alma mater, Dartmouth.

Eberhart served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1959 to 1961. He won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1966 for “Selected Poems, 1930-1965.” And a 1977 National Book Award for his collection, “Collected Poems, 1930-1976.”

In his poetry, Eberhart fused modernism with Romanticism. Like the Romantics, he often wrote about the natural world. But his poems featured short lines and didn’t often rhyme.

Anne Sullivan Teaches Helen Keller “Water”

Today in 1887 Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller her first word, “water.”

Photo of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.
Helen Keller sitting with her tutor, Anne Sullivan, in 1888.

Keller’s parents hired Sullivan to teach their deaf and blind daughter. Sullivan was a teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. But she moved to the Keller family estate in Alabama to tutor Keller.

Keller learned to memorize words, but she didn’t grasp their meanings.

Then one day Sullivan took Keller to the outdoor water pump. She ran water over one of the girl’s hands while spelling, on the other hand, the word, “w-a-t-e-r.” Sullivan kept spelling the word in Keller’s hand until the girl understood the meaning of “water.”

A scene in the 1962 movie, “The Miracle Worker,” depicts Sullivan teaching the word to Keller.

Keller went on to graduate from Radcliffe College. She became an activist for causes such as women’s suffrage and worker’s rights.

And President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Keller a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.

Robert Bloch

Cover of Robert Bloch's "Pyscho."
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Robert Bloch’s (affiliate link) first novel, “The Scarf,” is about a writer who uses women to model the characters in his stories. Once the writer’s finished writing the story, he kills the women using a scarf.

The book came out in 1947. By then, pulp magazines, such as Weird Tales, had already published some of Bloch’s stories.

This includes a story titled, “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper. It’s Bloch’s take on the fictional character, Jack the Ripper. The story was adapted for radio and, in the 1960s, for TV.

After releasing three more novels after “The Scarf,” it’s Bloch’s next book that changed his life.

Bloch published “Psycho” in 1959. Not long after the book’s release, Bloch sold the movie rights for $9,500. He later learned it was director Alfred Hitchcock who purchased the rights.

Hitchcock’s “Psycho” released in 1960. The American Film Institute lists it as the most-thrilling movie made between 1901 and 2001.

After “Psycho,” Bloch continued to write stories while also doing more work in Hollywood. He wrote screenplays for horror movies such as “Strait-Jacket” and “The House That Dripped Blood.”

Bloch, born today in Chicago in 1917, won the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990.


“The Giver of Stars”

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.

Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me

With its clear and rippled coolness,

That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,

Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

 

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,

That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,

The life and joy of tongues of flame,

And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,

I may rouse the blear-eyed world,

And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.

– Amy Lowell (1874-1925), Public Domain

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