May 15, 2001

1333 A little Madness in the Spring

by Emily Dickinson

435 Much Madness is divinest Sense

by Emily Dickinson

TUESDAY, 15 MAY 2001
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Poems: "Much Madness is Divinest Sense," and "A little Madness in the Spring," by Emily Dickinson.

Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur, — you're straightaway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown —
Who ponders this tremendous scene —
This whole Experiment of Green —
As if it were his own!

It's the birthday of playwright and novelist Paul Zindel, born on Staten Island, New York (1936). He's best known for his play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1965). He's also the author of novels for young adults, including The Pigman (1968), and My Darling, My Hamburger (1969).

It's the birthday of painter Jasper Johns, born in Augusta, Georgia (1930). He moved to New York, went to college, worked in a bookstore, and met Robert Rauschenberg. Together they did display work for Bonwit Teller and Tiffany's. In 1954 he started painting his series of American flags, and then moved on to painting targets, numbers, letters of the alphabet, and maps. He was hailed as the father of pop art and minimalism.

It's the birthday of twin playwright brothers Peter Shaffer and Anthony Shaffer, born in Liverpool (1926). Peter Shaffer is best known for his plays Amadeus (1979), Equus (1973), and Five Finger Exercise (1958). Anthony Shaffer is best known for his satire of the crime novel, Sleuth (1970).

It's the birthday of Tenzing Norgay, born in Solo Khumbu, Nepal (1914). It was he, along with Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand, who first to set foot on the summit of Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953.

On this day in 1886, Emily Dickinson, at the age of 55, died in the home in which she was born, in Amherst, Massachusetts. She had suffered from nephritis - inflammation of the kidney. Her poems, more than 1700 of them, were not published during her lifetime. After her death, her sister Lavinia worked to have them published. In 1890, Poems By Emily Dickinson appeared, with a few more coming out in 1891, and then in 1896. It would take until 1945 for all of her poetry to find its way into print.

It's the birthday of L. Frank Baum, born in Chittenango, New York, near Syracuse (1856). He raised chickens in upstate New York, moved to Chicago, became a newspaper reporter, and began to write stories. He had a fair success with a book called Mother Goose in Prose (1897), but his big success came in 1900 with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). He wrote fourteen books in the Oz series, as well as a number of adult novels such as Laura Bancroft, Floyd Akens, Edith van Dyne, Schuyler Stanton, and John Estes Cook.

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