Nov. 18, 1998

I Hear an Army

by James Joyce


Poem: "I Hear an Army," by James Joyce.

It's writer JAMES WELCH's birthday, born in Browning, Montana, 1940, author of the poetry collection Riding the Earthboy 40, and the novels Winter in the Blood, The Death of Jim Loney, and Fools Crow. He's part Blackfoot Indian, and went to school on the Blackfeet and Ft. Belknap reservations, before heading to the University of Montana and starting to write.

It's JOHNNY MERCER's birthday, born in Savannah, Georgia, 1909, who never learned to read music, but wrote the lyrics for "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe," "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," "Moon River," and "Days of Wine and Roses."

It's the birthday of PATRICK M.S. BLACKETT, 1897, London, winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize for Physics. Blackett won the prize for his work in atomic science: he was the first one to explain the phenomenon of how the nucleus of one atom can be bombarded into disintegration by the nucleus of another, a process key to the detonation of nuclear bombs, and something which others had seen before him, but Blackett was the first to give data that substantiated it.

It's the birthday of CLARENCE DAY, born in New York, 1874, who wrote for The New Yorker for many years in its early days, but is best remembered for a series of humorous books that came out beginning in 1932 about growing up in New York around the turn of the century, the son of a gruff, opinionated father and a warm, charming mother: God and My Father, Life with Father, and Life with Mother.

It's the birthday in 1836, London, of W.S. GILBERT, the lyricist-partner of Sir Arthur Sullivan who wrote the words to The Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore, Ruddigore, and all the other Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He started off as a lawyer, writing humorous verses on the side and submitting them to London magazines signed as "Bab." In 1870 he met Sullivan, an aspiring opera composer, and over the next 20 years they turned out about a dozen light operas that were the hit of the London musical season — so popular that their producer had a theater specially built just for them, the Savoy.

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