Jul. 28, 1999

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

by William Butler Yeats

Broadcast Date: WEDNESDAY: July 28, 1999

Poem: "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death," by W.B. Yeats, from Selected Poems and Four Plays (Scribner Paperback Poetry).

It's the birthday in Essex, England, 1844 of the poet and priest GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS, who as a young man loved to write poetry, but forsook it all when he joined the Roman Catholic church to become a priest. He said "it does not belong to my profession." But he continued making notes in his journals, and after a few years one of the priests under whom he studied encouraged him to try poetry again. "God's Grandeur" was written shortly afterward, and begins: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil Crushed..." Almost none of Hopkins' poetry saw the light of day during his life. He died of typhus at the age of forty-four, and only about twenty years later did his work begin to get published.

It's the birthday in 1902, Oak Park, Illinois, of poet and novelist KENNETH FEARING, best known for his free verse that usually incorporated newspaper and advertising jargon.

It was on this day in 1914 that AUSTRIA DECLARED WAR ON SERBIA, marking the beginning of World War I. Exactly one month earlier, a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo. The war eventually pitted Austria, Germany, and Turkey against France, Britain, Russia, and then the U.S.

It's the birthday in Rochester, New York, 1927, of poet JOHN ASHBERY, whose 1975 collection, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, won the National Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize

On July 28, 1932, about 15,000 protesters known as the BONUS ARMY gathered in the nation's capital demanding immediate payment of benefits for their W.W.I military service. They'd come from all across the country with their families and camped out along the Anacostia River. This was during the Great Depression, and the veterans wanted early lump-sum payment of pension funds which Congress approved in 1924, but were not due to be paid until 1945. The Bonus Army remained orderly until Congress voted against granting the early benefits. Most of the protesters left, but about 5000 stayed and began rioting. President Herbert Hoover called in the army, which used tear gas and tanks to break up the riots.

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