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Word for the Wise February 27, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today we mark the bicentennial of the birth of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (来源:英语麦当劳-英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

The contributions of this most American of poets are immense: he translated Dante, helped introduce schoolchildren to Native American culture in The Song of Hiawatha, and created the archetype character The Village Blacksmith.

In The Courtship of Miles Standish, Longfellow passed along a family legend about his ancestors John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. After Alden stuttered out his friend's request for Mullin's hand in marriage, she tartly observed "If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning" and then inquired "Why don’t you speak for yourself, John?"

Why don't you speak for yourself, John? has endured as a catchphrase. It has been directed at (among others) presidential hopeful John Kerry, Boston University President John Silber, senator and preacher John Danforth, and journalist John Tierney. Why don't you speak for yourself, John? is a line in The Little Shop of Horrors; and it is the title of a biography of theater critic John Mason Brown. But the most unexpected appearance of the phrase we found turns up in a legal decision—involving the Andy Warhol Foundation and a famous photograph of Jackie Kennedy—written by a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

 
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