Sep. 5, 1998

Lay Your Sleeping Head My Love

by W. H. Auden


Today's Reading: "Lay Your Sleeping Head My Love" by W.H. Auden from COLLECTED SHORTER POEMS 1927-1957, published by Random House (1967).

On this day in 1980, the world's longest road tunnel opened; it had been bored 10 miles through the Swiss Alps beneath the St. Gotthard Pass. The project, which took 11 years and $420 million to complete—had its share of opposition.

It's the birthday of novelist FRANK YERBY, born in Augusta, Georgia (1916). When Yerby, a black man, was criticized by other blacks for not giving more attention to racial problems in his fiction, he replied that writers should amuse their readers rather than preach to them. In any case, racial discrimination moved him to live the final 36 years of his life in Madrid. Yerby's many titles include "The Foxes of Harrow" (1946), "The Golden Hawk" (1948), and "The Serpent and the Staff" (1958).

Today is the birthday of American avant-garde composer JOHN CAGE, born in Los Angeles (1912). Among other unconventional instruments, he devised the "prepared piano" which had objects placed between its strings to produce percussive and otherworldly sound effects. Later, influenced by Zen Buddhism, Cage became a promoter of randomness in music, trying to eliminate any element of personal taste on the part of the performer. One of his best-known pieces is "Four Minutes and Thirty-three seconds" (1952), in which the performers remain utterly silent on stage for that amount of time.

It's the birthday of the novelist ARTH UR KOESTLER, born in Budapest, Hungary (1905). He's best known for his novel "Darkness at Noon" (1940), the story of an old-guard Bolshevik who, during Stalin's purge trials of the 1930s, first denies but then confesses to crimes he has not committed.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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