Jan. 28, 2001
Reading: a selection of epitaphs.
William Butler Yeats
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
Life is a jest, and all things show it,
I thought so once; but now I know it.
Here lies the body of Richard Hind,
who was neither ingenious, sober or kind.
H.J. Daniel's epitaph for his wife
To follow you I'm not content.
How do I know which way you went?
The Poet's Fate is here in Emblem shown:
He asked for Bread and he received a Stone.
Here lies proof that wit can never be
Defense against mortality.
Here lyes MARY the Wife of JOHN FORD,
We hope her soul is gone to the LORD;
But if for Hell she has chang'd this life,
She had better be there than be John Ford's wife.
It's the birthday of English novelist and scholar David Lodge, born in south-east London (1935). He's the author of The Picturegoers (1960), The British Museum is Falling Down (1965), How Far Can You Go? (1980; called Souls and Bodies in America), Nice Work (1988), Therapy (1995), and other books.
It's the birthday of sculptor Claes Oldenburg, born in Stockholm (1929). Among his 'soft sculptures' are enormous gooey ice cream cones, and bulging hamburgers.
It's the birthday of Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, born in Cody, Wyoming (1912). He became famous in New York after World War II for his work using a technique he called "Action Painting." He would spread out a large unprimed canvas on the floor, then dip a stick into a can of ordinary house paint and hold the stick, dripping, while he walked along the edge of the canvas. Sometimes he poured or hurled his paint onto huge canvases.
It's the birthday of French novelist Colette, born in the village of Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Burgundy (1873).When Colette was 17 she met Henri Gauthier-Villars, fifteen years her senior, who went by the name "Willy." Willy was well-known in the Paris publishing worldhe used ghost writers to turn out cheap novels which he published under his own name. He married Colette when she was 20, and introduced her to the Parisian nightlife. He admired her uninhibited ways, but also spotted her talent with words, and promptly set her to work writing memoirs of her girlhood. Her first such novel, Claudine at School (1900), Willy put out under his own name, after spicing it up here and there. The book sold well, and she kept on writing. After divorcing Willy in 1910, Colette turned out a series of novels under her own name that were even more shocking than what she'd written before: The Vagabond (1910), The Shackle (1913), and Mitsou: Or, How Girls Grow Wise (1919).
"Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you're a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff's worth, without pity, and destroy most of it."
It's the birthday of José Martí, the Cuban poet, patriot, and journalist, born in Havana (1853).He returned to Cuba after years of exile in America, to fight in the war for Cuban independence. He died in one of the first battles of the war.
It's the birthday of astronomer Johannes Hevelius, born in Gdansk, Poland, (1611).From his rooftop observatory, he discovered four comets, catalogued thousands of stars, and named most of what are called the "bodies of water" on the moon, such as the Sea of Tranquility.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®