Jul. 21, 2000
Ode: Intimations of Immortality (excerpt)
Today is the opening of the annual Song Of Hiawatha Pageant in Pipestone, Minnesota, based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It's held in a natural outdoor amphitheater and includes a lovely scene in which Hiawatha comes across the lake toward the audience in a canoe.
It's the birthday of writer and teacher John Gardner, born in Batavia, New York (1933). Although he wrote poetry, short stories, criticism and children's books, he's best known for his novels, including Grendel (1971), a re-telling of Beowulf from the viewpoint of the monster; The Sunlight Dialogues (1972); and October Light (1976), which won a National Book Critics' award.
It's the birthday of one of the greatest violinists in the world, Isaac Stern, born in Kremenets, Russia (1920). He was 22 when he made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1943. In 1960, when Carnegie Hall was slated to be torn down, Stern organized a group to save it. He also helped establish the National Endowment For The Arts in 1964.
It's the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899), the son of a music-teacher mother and a physician father. After graduating from high school, he worked as a reporter for the Kansas City Star. Rejected for military service because of a bad eye, he served as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in World War One, and, while still 18, was injured and decorated for heroism. After the war, he worked as Paris correspondent for the Toronto Star and met F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound, each of whom encouraged him to write fiction. The Sun Also Rises (1926), was Hemingway's first major novel - the story of a group of post-war expatriates in France and Spain. It introduced the term "the lost generation," a phrase Hemingway scorned even as he made it famous. He became a legendary, larger-than-life figure, hunting, bull-fighting, deep sea fishing and going off to war. He wrote about his experiences in his novels: A Farewell To Arms (1929), For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940) The Old Man And The Sea (1952), and others. He moved Ketchum, Idaho, at the age of 59, was tormented by anxiety, and was hospitalized twice for depression and given electro-shock therapy. Two days after he returned from one of these sessions, he took his own life with a shotgun. He said, "A man can be destroyed but not defeated."
It's the birthday of American poet (Harold) Hart Crane, born in Garrettsville, Ohio (1899), famous for his poem, "The Bridge."
On this day in 1861, the first major military engagement of the Civil War took place at Bull Run Creek, Virginia. The Union army went into battle wearing flowers and carrying bottles of whiskey. Hundreds of sight-seers were there to watch, including a number of congressmen and ladies who came with basket lunches and bottles of champagne. Despite the great confidence on the part of the Union Army, General Pierre Gustave Beauregard's 22,000 Confederate troops were victorious.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®