Mar. 21, 2000
Poem: "Aspens," by Raymond Carver, from All of Us: Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf).
Today is PURIM, the Jewish feast day, celebrating Queen Esther's intervention, in the 6th century B.C., to save the Jews of ancient Persia from King Haman's plot to exterminate them.
It's the ANNIVERSARY OF THE SECOND BATTLE OF SOMME. General Erich Ludendorff launched the biggest German offensive of 1918 on this day with a five-hour artillery barrage. The objective was to drive a wedge between the British and French forces, and drive the British to the sea. The Germans advanced 40 miles and created a bulge in the front south of Somme, ending what had been a stalemate. 500,000 men lost their lives in the battle.
It's the birthday of PHYLLIS McGINLEY, born in Ontario, Oregon (1905). McGinley began writing light verse as a young suburban wife in the 1920s, and won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection, Times Three: Selected Verse From Three Decades (1960).
It's the birthday of American theatrical producer FLORENZ ZIEGFELD, born in Chicago (1869). His spectacular musical revues began with "The Follies of 1907." The Follies featured scantily clad beauties, extravagant sets, and grand and comical musical numbers filled with pageantry. Ziegfeld was also noted for his star-making abilities: he launched the careers of Fanny Brice, W.C. Fields, Will Rogers, and Eddie Cantor.
It's the birthday of German Baroque composer JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, born in Eisenach, Thuringia (1685). The 11th son of a couple who died by the time he turned ten, he was raised by his older brother, Johann Christian, who taught him organ and clavier. After leaving school he worked as an organist in Thuringia and composed sacred music. He became court organist at Weimer and a member of the court orchestra, then became a cantor in Liepzig where he remained for the last 27 years of his life. In his own lifetime he was such a renowned organist that his genius for composition was overlooked, not to be recognized until 50 years after his death.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®