Oct. 19, 2001

Sonnet 25: Let those who are in favour with their stars

by William Shakespeare

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Poem: "Sonnet 25," by William Shakespeare.

Sonnet 25

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil'd,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil'd:
    Then happy I, that love and am beloved
    Where I may not remove nor be removed.

The stock market crash of 1987 took place on this day. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 508 points. The percentage decline, 22.6, was actually higher than that of the crash of 1929.

It's the birthday in 1931 of spy novelist John Le Carre, born David Cornwell in Poole, England, to a wealthy family—his father was a businessman who owned racehorses. Cornwell's first story as a boy was about a heroic racehorse flogged to death by an unscrupulous jockey. Later, he wrote about heroic old spies driven to destruction by their unscrupulous masters, such as the character Alex Leamas in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, his first big successful book. It was followed by A Small Town in Germany, and others. He created the character of George Smiley in his novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the first in a trilogy, in which the plump, bespectacled, middle-aged Smiley grapples with the Soviet master spy Karla. Le Carre said once, "You take one character, you take another character and you put them into collision, and the collision arrives because they have different appetites, and you begin to get the essence of drama. The cat sat on the mat is not a story; the cat sat on the dog's mat is the beginning of a story."

It's the birthday of Vasco Pratolini, in Florence, Italy, 1913, short-story writer and novelist, known for his compassionate portraits of the poor in Florence during the Fascist era, starting with his novel Il Quartiere (The Naked Streets) in 1944 and Cronache di poveri amanti (A Tale of Poor Lovers) in 1947.

It's the birthday, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, 1899, of poet Miguel Asturias, winner of the Novel Prize for Literature in 1967.

It's the birthday of Lewis Mumford in Flushing, New York, 1895, architectural critic and historian of the effects of technology on human life, author of many books, including The City in History and The Culture of Cities.

It's the birthday of Auguste Lumière, in Besancon, France, 1862, who with his brother Louis, devised an early camera and projector called the Cinématographe—from which we get the word "cinema." In 1895, they filmed workers leaving the Lumière factory in Paris, and that is considered the first motion picture. The next year they made more than 40 films, some comedies, and others recording every day French life: a city street, soldiers marching, the feeding of a baby.

It's the birthday of the Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon, in 1833, who wrote: "Life is mostly froth and bubble; Two things stand like stone: Kindness in another's trouble, Courage in your own."

And it's the day observed as the birthday of The Báb, the prophet of the Bahá'í faith, born in Shiraz, Persia, Siyyid Ali Muhammad. Today is a holy day to Bahá'ís.

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