May 12, 2000
Cold Are the Crabs
Poem: "Cold Are the Crabs," by Edward Lear, from Teapots and Quails and Other New Nonsenses (John Murray Publishers Ltd.).
It's the birthday of novelist and poet ROSELLEN BROWN, born in Philadelphia (1939), author of The Autobiography of my Mother (1976), Tender Mercies (1978), and Before and After (1992).
It's the birthday of (Lawrence Peter) "YOGI" BERRA, born in St. Louis, Missouri (1925). He went to work in a coal yard when he was 14, and later worked as a truck driver. When he turned 18, he joined the Navy, and served as a gunner for 15 consecutive days during the Normandy invasion at Omaha Beach. After the war he was signed to the Yankees. He went on to become a 15-time All-Star, and played in 14 World Series. Although it's pretty certain that he never said "It's deja vu all over again," or, "If you come to a fork in the road, take it," he did say,
- "Nobody goes there it's too crowded."
- "If people don't want to come to the ballpark, how are you gonna stop them?"
- "You can see a lot just by observing."
- "It ain't over till it's over."
It's the birthday of mystery writer LESLIE CHARTERIS, born Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin, in Singapore (1907). His mother was English and his father was a Chinese physician. Charteris worked in tin and gold mines, labored on a rubber plantation, dived for pearls, manned a freighter, worked as a journalist and a bar tender. He wrote some 50 books about his hero, Simon Templar, also known as "the Saint."
It's the birthday of the poet and painter DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI, born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, in London (1828). He was at the center of a revolutionary art movement called the Pre-Raphaelites. He met a model named Elizabeth (Lizzie) Siddal and pursued her for 10 years until they were married. But the marriage was not a happy one, and Lizzie killed herself after a quarrel with him. Rossetti was so overcome with grief that he put a sheaf of his new poems into her casket before they buried her. He gradually became more reclusive, drinking too much and getting into fights. Six years after Lizzie's death, he had her coffin dug her up so he could get his poems back. Rossetti continued to degenerate, and even had spells of madness, but he wrote and painted practically to the end of his life, in 1882.
It's the birthday of painter and poet EDWARD LEAR, born in Halloway, England (1812). He was the 20th of 21 children, and was raised by an aunt. He had to scramble to make a living: he traveled to Europe, Asia, and Africa to collect views that he would then turn into paintings to sell to Englishmen at home or abroad. Sometimes he set out a hundred paintings at a time and work on them simultaneously to have enough products to sell. He was a lonely man an epileptic who hid his seizures, a homosexual unable to find a mate, and a depressive, subject to what he called "the morbids." But it's not for his art or his sadness that he's remembered, it's for the little nonsense poems he wrote to give joy to the children of his friends and patrons. He always felt most comfortable around children, and he entertained them with poems such as "The Jumblies" and "The Owl and the Pussycat." He popularized the limerick too.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®