Sep. 16, 2001
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Poem: "Terminus," by Ralph Waldo Emerson from The Seashell Anthology of Great Poetry (Park Lane Press).
It is time to be old,
To take in sail
The god of bounds,
Who sets to seas a shore,
Came to me in his fatal rounds,
And said: "No more!
No farther spread
Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root.
Fancy departs: no more invent,
Contract thy firmament
To compass of a tent.
There's not enough for this and that,
Make thy option which of two;
Economize the failing river,
Not the less revere the Giver,
Leave the many and hold the few.
Timely wise accept the terms…"
As the bird trims her to the gale,
I trim myself to the storm of time,
I man the rudder, reef the sail,
Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:
"Lowly faithful, banish fear,
Right onward drive unharmed;
The port, well worth the cruise, is near,
And every wave is charmed."
The Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England, for the New World on this day in 1620, hoping to settle in Virginia territory, and become fishermen.
It was on this day that Henry Steinway, who had come here from Hamburg in 1849, sold his first American-made piano in 1853. He introduced the first cast iron frame, which allowed a piano to be strung with greater tension on the strings and with the bass strings crossing above the treble strings so they could be longer and make a grander sound.
It's the birthday of Henry Louis Gates, the critic and historian, born in Keyser, West Virginia (1950). He wrote a memoir about growing up there, called Colored People. After college he worked for a year in Tanzania and then hitchhiked the length and breadth of Africa. A professor at Harvard, a writer for The New Yorker magazine, he is known for his critical essay, On the Blackness of Blackness: A Critique of the Sign and the Signifying Monkey (1983). The "Signifying Monkey" being a trickster character in African folk tales.
It's the birthday of novelist John Knowles, born in Fairmont, West Virginia, (1926). His first novel was a big success in 1960 and launched his career: A Separate Peace, about a boys' boarding school.
It's the birthday of B.B. King, born Riley B. King, on a cotton plantation near Indianola, Mississippi (1925). He moved to Memphis and found work with WDIA, the local black radio station, where he called himself "the Blues Boy from Beale Street," which he shortened to "Blues Boy King," and finally B.B.King when he started to make his own records. Over the next four decades he and Lucille, his red guitar, played as many as 330 one-night stands a year in bars and blues clubs. His autobiography, Blues All Around Me, came out in 1996.
It's the birthday of the psychoanalyst Karen Horney, born Karen Danielsen, in Hamburg (1885). She came to the United States in 1932 after 12 years at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute and promulgated her belief that social conditions, more than biological factors, determine individual personality and create neuroses, which got her expelled from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.
It's the birthday of historian Francis Parkman, born in Boston (1823). His classic book was The Oregon Trail, in 1849, based on his travels along the trail and a summer he spent living with the Sioux Indians.
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