Mar. 26, 2002

Lines Written in Dejection on the Eve of Great Success

by Robert Frost


Poem: "Lines Written in Dejection on the Eve of Great Success," by Robert Frost.

It's the birthday of American Indian historian, activist and writer Vine (Victor) Deloria, Jr., born in Martin, South Dakota (1933). He's best known for his book Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto (1969).

It's the birthday of American playwright Thomas Lanier Williams, Tennessee Williams, born in Columbus, Mississippi (1914). He scored his first big success with his play The Glass Menagerie (1944), which won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award. He followed it up over the next decade with A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1950), Camino Real (1953), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). Two of his plays, Streetcar and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, earned him the Pulitzer Prize. His later plays include Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) and Night of the Iguana (1961).

It's the birthday of Joseph Campbell, born in New York City (1904). As a child, he became interested in American Indian folklore, and later began to notice similarities between motifs in American Indian folklore and Arthurian legend. This led him to begin a lifelong study of comparative mythology, which yielded the book The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949) and the four-volume work, The Masks of God (1959-1967).

It's the birthday of American poet Robert Frost, born in San Francisco, California (1874). When William Prescott Frost died in 1885, his wife gathered up her two children and headed east to honor her husband's last request: to be buried in his native New England. After the funeral, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Mrs. Frost realized that she didn't have enough money for a return ticket. So she settled with her children in New England. Her son Robert grew up to be known as "the poet of New England." His first success, however, came in old England, where he spent the years 1912 to 1915 working on his writing. During those years, he came out with his first two books of poems, A Boy's Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914), which did well in England, and began to attract attention back home in the States. When he returned to America in 1915, North of Boston was a surprise bestseller, and the poet was suddenly in demand for public readings and lectures.

It's the birthday of English poet and classical scholar A.E. (Alfred Edward) Housman, born in Fockbury, Worcestershire, England (1859). His first volume of poetry, A Shropshire Lad (1896), became enormously popular, with poems like the one which begins, "Loveliest of trees, the cherry now/Is hung with bloom along the bough." A. E. Housman, who said: "Good literature continually read for pleasure must, let us hope, do some good to the reader: must quicken his perception though dull, and sharpen his discrimination though blunt, and mellow the rawness of his personal opinions."

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