Wednesday

Oct. 17, 2001

Sonnet 64: When I have seen by Time's fell hand defac'd

by William Shakespeare

WEDNESDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2001
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Poem: "Sonnet 64," by William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 64

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich-proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store:
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my lover away.
    This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
    But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

In 1777, the British General Burgoyne surrendered to the American General Gates at Saratoga. The Englishman rode to the American lines and said, "The fortune of war, General Gates, has made me your prisoner," and the American said, "I shall always be ready to testify that it has not been through any fault of Your Excellency." Burgoyne surrendered his sword, which Gates then returned to him, and officers of both sides then sat down to dinner.

In 1781 on this day, Cornwallis was defeated at Yorktown, and, for all practical purposes, the American Revolution was over. Cornwallis was in a snit over this, and refused to attend the surrender ceremony, pretending to be ill.

It's the anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, in which a section of the Bay Bridge collapsed and also the upper deck of the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland.

It's the birthday of the American impressionist painter Childe Hassam, 1859, Dorchester, Massachusettes, who painted directly from nature, particularly in New York City and Connecticut.

It's the birthday, in 1915, in New York City, of playwright Arthur Miller. His father's business failed in the Depression and Miller graduated from high school and went to work in a warehouse. He saved his money and got himself into the University of Michigan where he started to write plays. All My Sons was his first successful one, in 1947, and in 1949 came Death of A Salesman, in which Mrs. Willy Loman tells her sons: "I don't say he's a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He's not the finest character that ever lived. But he's a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid."

The novelist Nathanael West was born Nathan Weinstein in New York City on this day in 1903. He was influenced by dadaism and surrealism in his short novels, including The Dream Life of Balso Snell. In 1933, he brought his masterpiece, Miss Lonelyhearts, about a lovelorn columnist who tries to give optimistic advice to desperate people but who himself becomes depressed by the letters he gets and meets one of the letter-writers and has an affair with her and is shot by her husband. In 1939, The Day of the Locust, a novel about Hollywood, came out. His work was little known when he and his wife were killed in a car crash in California in 1940.

The novelist Elinor Glyn was born in 1864 on the isle of Jersey on this day. She was famous in her day for shocking novels in which passionate women were seduced as they lay on tigerskin rugs, quivering. The best known was It, which became a successful silent movie. Someone once wrote: "Would you like to sin/With Elinor Glyn/On a tiger skin?/Or would you prefer/To err/With her/On some other fur?"

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