Sep. 13, 2000

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

by William Butler Yeats

Broadcast date: WEDNESDAY, 13 September 2000

"He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," by W.B. Yeats, from The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats (Scribner).

It's the birthday of photojournalist Kevin Carter, born in Johannesburg, South Africa (1960). In 1993 he paid his own way to the southern Sudan to photograph the civil war and famine there--resulting in a 1994 Pulitzer Prize for his haunting shot of a starving girl collapsing on her way to a feeding center, a vulture lurking in the background. (After taking the picture, he said later, he chased away the vulture, saw the toddler make her way to the feeding station, and then sat under a tree "smoking cigarettes and crying.") Several days after his Pulitzer was announced, a close friend was shot dead near him while photographing a gun battle in South Africa; three months later, Carter committed suicide.

It's the birthday of American poet and biographer John Malcolm Brinnin, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia (1916). He wrote memoirs describing his friendships with Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote. Brinnin said, "Poetry for me was the liveliest art, the most gloriously useless and the most necessary."

It's the birthday of Roald Dahl, born in Llandaff, Wales (1916) of Norwegian parents. He wrote the grimly humorous memoirs Boy (1984), and Going Solo (1986). He preferred to be known for his adult fiction, but is best remembered for his children's stories James and the Giant Peach (1961) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964).

It's the birthday of jazz critic and songwriter Leonard Feather, born in London, England (1914). Called the 'dean of jazz critics,' he compiled a standard reference work, The Encyclopedia of Jazz (1955).

It's the birthday of the 'Father of Bluegrass,' Bill Monroe, born in Rosine, Kentucky (1911), a brilliant mandolinist and a hard-driving tenor singer. His mother was an excellent fiddler but his main inspiration was his Uncle Pen Vandiver, who Monroe later honored with the song "Uncle Pen." In 1938, Bill formed the Blue Grass Boys, a group that would include such future stars of country music as Don Reno, Jimmy Martin, Carter Stanley, Vassar Clements, Chubby Wise, and Byron Berline--and Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

It's the birthday of the British man of letters J. B. Priestley, born in Bradford, Yorkshire (1894). His first novel, The Good Companions (1929), came out when he was 35. His other novels include Angel Pavement (1930) and Lost Empires (1965); his plays include When We Are Married (1938), and An Inspector Calls (1946).

It's the birthday of story writer and novelist Sherwood Anderson, born in Camden, Ohio (1876). He wrote sketches of small-town middle America, Winesburg, Ohio (1919), which made his reputation.

It's the birthday of musical prodigy Clara Schumann, born in Leipzig (1819), who made her piano debut at 9. She fell in love, over her father's objections, with his pupil Robert Schumann. After Robert Schumann's mental collapse and early death (1856), she brought up their 7 children and carried on her career as composer, pianist, and promoter of his works and the works of their friend, Johannes Brahms.

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