Oct. 29, 2001

Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens

by Gavin Ewart

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Poem: "Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens," by Gavin Ewart from Selected Poems 1933-1988 (New Directions).

Yorkshiremen in Pub Gardens

    As they sit there, happily drinking,
their strokes, cancers and so forth are not in their minds.
    Indeed, what earthly good would thinking
about the future (which is Death) do? Each summer finds
    beer in their ands in big pint glasses.
    And so their leisure passes.

    Perhaps the older ones allow some inkling
into their thoughts. Being hauled, as a kid, upstairs to bed
    screaming for a teddy or a tinkling
musical box, against their will. Each Joe or Fred
    wants longer with the life and lasses
    And so their time passes.

    Second childhood: and 'Come in, number eighty!'
shouts inexorably the man in charge of the boating pool.
    When you're called you must go, matey,
so don't complain, keep it all calm and cool,
    there's masses of time yet, masses, masses…
    And so their life passes.

On this day in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded. One of the founders was feminist housewife Betty Friedan who identified in her book The Feminine Mystique universal feelings of despair and hopelessness in the majority of American women who had been college educated and were now wives and mothers.

On this day in 1956, the famous opera singer Maria Callas made her debut in Norma at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

On this day in 1958, author Boris Pasternak won the Nobel Prize for Literature, largely because of his work Dr. Zhivago. The book was not published in Russia and was instead bought by an Italian publishing house. Pasternak was thrown out of the Union of Soviet Writers because of the book. Thirty years after it was initially put into print, the book was published in Russia.

On this day in 1929, more than 16 million shares of stock were sold off in a panic in the stock market crash known as "Black Tuesday." Thirty billion dollars disappeared, 1,300 banks closed within a year, and almost 30 percent of the workforce was unemployed. Within four years, 11,000 of the 25,000 banks in America had failed, and the Depression was in full swing.

It's the birthday of novelist Jean Giraudoux, born in Bellac, France (1882), and recognized primarily for his plays, though he was a prolific writer of short stories and novels as well. His most popular work was The Madwoman of Chaillot (1945). When the play premiered, General de Gaulle was in the audience. Giraudoux once said, "Only the mediocre are always at their best," and "Faithful women are all alike, they think only of their fidelity, never of their husbands."

It's the birthday of the little known novelist Henry Vincent Yorke, known as Henry Green, born near Tewkesbury, England (1905) who published his first book when he was only 21 years old (Blindness). He wrote a total of nine novels and was a very unique author because he wrote about the many different facets of life. He wrote about a soldier returning home in shock in Back (1946), and then a novel about old age and the future in Concluding (1948). Most authors find one genre (mystery, western, etc.) and stick to it; Yorke worked in all styles, in all genres, and was successful doing so.

On this day in 1618, Sir Walter Ralegh was beheaded at the Tower of London. He had been sentenced to die for treason 15 years earlier by King James I. While he waited, he wrote his book, History of the Word, which spanned the time from the Creation to the second century B.C.

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