May 24, 2002
250 I shall keep singing!
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Poem: "I shall keep singing!" by Emily Dickinson.
I shall keep singing!
I shall keep singing!
Birds will pass me
On their way to Yellower Climes-
Each-with a Robin's expectation-
I-with my Redbreast-
And my Rhymes-
Late-when I take my place in summer-
But-I shall bring a fuller tune-
Vespers-are sweeter than Matins-Signor-
Morning-only the seed of Noon-
It's the birthday of songwriter and singer Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota (1941). In college at the University of Minnesota, Dylan began to listen to folk pioneers like Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. He dropped out of school and in 1961 moved to New York City to play folk songs in Greenwich Village and to meet Woody Guthrie. It was Dylan's second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963), that brought him instant fame, with such folk anthems as "Blowin' in the Wind," "Masters of War," and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." In 1965, he recorded Bringing It All Back Home, a half-electric, half-acoustic album. At the Newport Folk Festival that year, Dylan was booed off the stage when he appeared with an electric guitar. However, just a few weeks later he released the album Highway 61 Revisited, which contained the hit single, "Like a Rolling Stone."
It's the birthday of poet Joseph Brodsky, born in Leningrad, Russia (1940). His poetry was denounced in a Leningrad newspaper, which called it "pornographic and anti-Soviet." In 1964, he was tried and found guilty of "social parasitism," and sentenced to five years of hard labor. Protests from the literary community around the world convinced the authorities to commute his sentence after eighteen months. He stayed in Russia for seven more years, but was continually harassed for being Jewish as well as for being a poet. He left for America in 1972, where he taught at colleges like the University of Michigan, Queens College, Columbia University, and Mount Holyoke. He became an American citizen in 1977. His three best known books include A Part of Speech (1977); Less Than One (1986), and To Urania (1988). Brodsky won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1987 and died of a heart attack in 1996, at the age of fifty-five.
It's the birthday of novelist, short story writer, and playwright William Trevor, born in County Cork, Ireland (1928). Although he studied history in college, Trevor worked as a sculptor and taught art for several years. His first novel, A Standard of Behavior (1958), was a disappointment, and from 1960 to 1965, Trevor worked as an advertising copywriter. But he continued his fiction writing, and his 1964 novel The Old Boys was so well received that Trevor adapted it first for television and then into a very successful stage play. He has written many more novels, including Other People's Worlds (1980), and Two Lives, named by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of 1991. But he is best known as a writer of short stories, including the collection Angels at the Ritz, and The News from Ireland and Other Stories (1986).
It's the birthday of writer Mikhail Sholokhov, born in Veshenskaya, Russia (1905), who joined the Red army as a machine-gunner at the age of fifteen, and was a staunch supporter of the Soviet system throughout his life. His most famous and controversial work is And Quiet Flows the Don, which was produced in serialized form between the years 1925 and 1940. The story traces the struggle of the Cossacks against the Bolsheviks for independence. The controversy arose when Soviet dissidents Aleksander Solzhenitsyn and Boris Pasternak accused Sholokov of plagiarizing large portions of the book from a novel that was originally written in 1920.
It's the birthday of playwright Arthur Wing Pinero, born in London, England (1855), who gave up his law studies to become an actor at the age of nineteen. He played small parts in Sir Henry Irving's company, but soon found he had more success writing parts than playing them. His first major hit was The Magistrate (1885). Pinero was one of the first Victorian playwrights to write "social" drama, epitomized by The Second Mrs. Tanqueray (1893), the tragic story of a woman with a shady past who tries to remake herself into a respectable member of society. His other plays include Dandy Dick (1887), Sweet Lavender (1888), and Trelawny of the Wells (1898).
It's the birthday of physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, born in Gdansk, Poland (1686). He is best known for developing the Fahrenheit temperature scale, based on three fixed temperatures: zero degrees for the freezing point of ice, salt, and water; thirty-two degrees for the freezing point of pure water; and two hundred twelve degrees for the boiling point of water.
In 1883 on this day, the Brooklyn
Bridge was opened to the public.
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