Apr. 7, 1999
Poem: "For Free," by Joni Mitchell, from The Complete Poems and Lyrics (Crown Publishers, 1997).
It's the birthday of one of the first Romantic poets, WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, born in Cumberland, in the Lake District of northwestern England, 1770. In his early 20s Wordsworth took long hiking trips through England, France, and Germany, having failed at college and not knowing what he was going to do with his life. Then he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who was a few years younger than him. The two began writing poetry together. Their 1798 collection, Lyrical Ballads, launched the Romantic movement in English literature.
It's the birthday of the author and clergyman, WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING, born this day in Newport, Rhode Island, 1780. He was a preacher in Boston, and started off as a Congregationalist. He made friends with Emerson and Thoreau and his preaching began to strike many in Boston as too liberal to be called Christian. In 1815, another Boston clergyman attacked his views as "Unitarian," a label Channing reluctantly accepted. In 1820 he formed a conference of liberal Congregational ministers, and five years later reorganized it as the American Unitarian Association.
It's the birthday in 1897, New York City, of the father of the gossip column, WALTER WINCHELL. He started off in vaudeville when he was 13 years old, then began writing about the stars and backstage brawls for New York newspapers. When his column, "On Broadway" became nationally syndicated, he started covering political figures as well, and went on the air in 1932. On Sunday nights about 20 million Americans tuned in for Winchell's news, gossip, and rash advice about the stock market all delivered in a breathless style with a telegraph ticking in the background between stories.
It's the birthday in singer BILLIE HOLIDAY. She was born Eleanora Fagan in Baltimore, 1915.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®