It was the first of May
A lovely warm spring day
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride;
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.
Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter
When a lady passing by did softly say:
“You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses” —
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.
An old man lived alone in the country. He wanted to dig up his garden and plant vegetables, but the ground was just too hard. His only son was in the state penitentiary. The old man wrote a letter to his son:
I’m feeling sad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me.
A few days later he received a letter from his son:
Whatever you do, don’t dig up that garden — that’s where I buried the bodies!
Early the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
Later that day the old man received another letter from his son:
Go ahead and plant your garden now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
It’s the birthday of English poet Alfred Edward Housman, born in 1859, and American poet Robert Frost, born in 1874. In addition to sharing a birthday, they also share the distinction of having written some exceptionally lovely poems about springtime, and heaven knows we could use a little spring right about now.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
— A. E. Houseman (1859-1936)
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.
— Robert Frost (1874-1963)
It’s also the anniversary of the arrival in Washington, DC of three thousand Japanese cherry trees — a gift from the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki — in 1912. First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two of the trees on the north bank of the Tidal Basin on March 27, 1912. The rest of the trees were eventually planted around the Tidal Basin and in other parts of the city. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935, and it became an annual event that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world.
Many of Tokyo’s cherry trees were destroyed in allied bombing raids during World War II. After the war ended, cuttings were taken from the Japanese cherry trees in Washington and sent to Tokyo to replace the trees that had been lost.