Sep. 9, 2001
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Poem: "Prophecy," by Elinor Wylie from Collected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf).
I shall lie hidden in a hut
In the middle of an alder wood,
With the back door blind and bolted shut,
And the front door locked for good.
I shall lie folded like a saint,
Lapped in a scented linen sheet,
On a bedspread striped with bright-blue paint,
Narrow and cold and neat.
The midnight will be glassy black
Behind the panes, with wind about
To set his mouth against a crack
And blow the candle out.
It's the birthday of soul singer and songwriter Otis Redding, born in Dawson, Georgia (1941), who dropped out of high school to play in Little Richard's band. His biggest hit, in 1967, was "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay," which was released after his death in an airplane crash. "Sittin' in the morning sun, I'll be sitting when the evening come, Watching the ships roll in, And I'll watch 'em roll away again, yeah."
It's the birthday of novelist, poet, and playwright Paul Goodman, born in New York City in 1911. He was an academic, a teacher, whose anarchism and sexual mores caused him many professional difficulties. He was fired from every teaching job he ever had because he insisted on his right to fall in love with his students, even though he had a wife and family. During the 1940s he wrote furiously, producing five novels, 100 short stories, and numerous plays and poems, all while supplementing his income by writing plot synopses of French novels for the MGM story department for $5 apiece. Goodman turned from writing fiction to writing social criticism, and is best known for his 1960 work, Growing Up Absurd.
It's the birthday of poet, novelist, and translator Cesare Pavese, born in Santo Stefano Belbo, Italy, in 1908. In the 1930s, Pavese edited the anti-Fascist review "La Cultura," for which he was arrested and imprisoned by the Mussolini government. He translated many American writers of the time, including Steinbeck, Dos Passos, Hemingway, and Faulkner. After WWII, Pavese wrote several novels of his own, including The Comrade (1948), Among Women Only (1953), and The Moon and The Bonfire (1950). In 1950, unhappy with his personal life and the political climate of postwar Italy, he committed suicide.
It's the birthday of novelist and screenwriter James Hilton, born in Lancashire, England (1900), an instructor at Cambridge University and the author of Goodbye, Mr. Chips, about Mr. Chipping, a classics teacher who sacrifices his academic career because he is caught up in the lives of his students. Another of Hilton's novels became a best seller: Lost Horizon, about a Utopian paradise hidden high in the Tibetan mountains.
It's the birthday of chef and entrepreneur Harland Sanders, born near Henryville, Indiana (1890), a streetcar conductor, a soldier, a railroad fireman, an insurance salesman, and a service station operator, and in 1929, when he was about 40 years old, he opened Sanders' Café at the rear of his service station in Corbin, Kentucky, where he developed a secret combination of eleven herbs and spices and learned how to fry chicken in a pressure cooker, techniques which he then franchised. This was the beginning of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
It's the birthday of poet and short-story writer Elinor Wylie, born in Somerville, New Jersey (1885), to a wealthy family. At the age of 25, she left her husband and son and ran away with a man named Horace Wylie, also married. They moved to England, where she published her first book of poetry, Incidental Numbers. In 1928, she wrote what many consider her best poems in a collection called Angels and Earthly Creatures. On December 15th of that year, she finished the last poem, and prepared the manuscript for the printer. She died the following day.
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