Apr. 23, 2002

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

by William Shakespeare

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Poem: "Sonnet XXV, "Let those who are in favour with their stars," by William Shakespeare.

Sonnet XXV, "Let those who are in favour with their stars."

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such a 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.

It's the feast day of Saint George, the patron saint of England.

It's the birthday of American novelist and short story writer Barry Hannah, born in Clinton, Mississippi (1942). He's known for dark comedies set in the Deep South. His novels include the coming-of-age story Geronimo Rex (1972) and Ray (1980). His short story collection High Lonesome (1996) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He said: "Reading and writing train our people for logic, grace, and precision of thought, and begin a lifelong study of the exceptional in human existence. I think literature is the history of the soul. Writing should be a journey into worthy perception."

It's the birthday of British mystery novelist Dame Ngaio Marsh, born in Christchurch, New Zealand (1899). She was the author of thirty-one mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Alleyn.

It's the birthday of Russian-born American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, born in St. Petersburg, Russia (1899). His father was a prominent politician in pre-Revolutionary Russia who was assassinated in 1922. Nabokov spent his life in exile from Russia-in Germany, England, France, the United States, and finally, Switzerland. He came to the US in 1939, and taught at various colleges and universities. He was teaching at Cornell University when he wrote his most famous and controversial novel, Lolita (1958). The success of the book allowed him to give up teaching, settle in Switzerland, and devote the rest of his life to his two greatest passions: writing and butterfly collecting.

It's the birthday of William Shakespeare, born in Stratford-on-Avon, England (1564). He was the son of a glove maker and justice of the peace; he was married at eighteen; he went off to London in his early twenties to become an actor and playwright; he became a part-owner of the Globe Playhouse when he was thirty-five; he retired to Stratford in his late forties, built a house, died on his fifty-third birthday, and was buried in the Stratford church-a few blocks from where he was born. But during this modest career, he managed to write some of the greatest plays in the English language. Thirty-eight plays remain under his name, including Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew, A MidsummerNight's Dream, and The Tempest. He wrote (from A Midsummer Night's Dream):

The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and give to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

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