Thursday

Oct. 10, 2002

The Music-Makers

by Arthur O'Shaughnessy

THURSDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2002
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Poem: "The Music-Makers," by Arthur O'Shaughnessy.

The Music-Makers

We are the music-makers,
      And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
      And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
      On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
      Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
      And out of a fabulous story
      We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
      Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
      Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
      In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
      And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
      To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
      Or one that is coming to birth.


It's the birthday of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, born in Rancola, Italy (1813).

It's the birthday of the French writer Claude Simon, born in Tananarive, on the island of Madagascar (1913). He became known as the representative of the nouveau roman literature style that emerged in the 1950s.

It's the birthday of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina (1917). He once said: "There are no wrong notes."

It's the birthday of English playwright, actor, poet, and political activist Harold Pinter, born in East London, England (1930). He started writing poetry for little magazines in his teens. As a young man, he studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Central School of Speech and Drama, but soon left to undertake an acting career. He spent years working in provincial repertory before deciding to turn his attention to playwriting. Pinter started writing plays in 1957. He had mentioned an idea for a play to a friend who worked in the drama department at Bristol University. The friend liked the idea so much that he wrote to Pinter asking for the play.The only problem was that if the university was to perform the play, they would need a script within the week. Pinter wrote back and told his friend to forget the whole thing--then sat down and wrote the play in four days. He said: "I find critics on the whole a pretty unnecessary bunch of people. We don't need critics to tell the audiences what to think." He wrote (among others) The Homecoming and The Caretaker.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer R.K. (Rasipuram Krishnaswami) Narayan, born in Madras, India (1906). Narayan's first book was Swami and Friends (1935), which, like many of this other books, is set in a fictional town of Malgudi. He said: "I had an idea of a railway station, a very small railway station, a wayside station. You've seen that kind of thing, with a platform, trees and a stationmaster... a street, a depot, a school or a temple at any spot in a little world...with the result that I am unable to escape Malgudi." He stayed contentedly in his home country, venturing abroad only rarely. He rarely addressed political issues or tried to explore the cutting edge of fiction. He was a traditional teller of tales, a creator of realistic fiction which is often gentle, humorous, and warm rather than hard-hitting or profound. Graham Greene greatly admired R K Narayan and helped publish his works in Britain. The remarkable fact about their relationship was that Greene and Narayan met only once, briefly, in London in 1964. The friendship began in 1934 when Greene happened to come across a manuscript of Swami and Friends. Greene was impressed and passed it on to Hamish Hamilton. He also began a correspondence with R K Narayan. The correspondence lasted until his death, with both of them taking around fifteen years to switch from Dear Mr. Narayan and Graham Greene, to Dear Narayan and Graham.



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