Nov. 27, 2004

St. Clement's Day Song

by Anonymous

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Poem: "St. Clement's Day Song" by Anonymous

St. Clement's Day Song

Clementsing, clementsing, apples and pears,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for Him that made us all!
Up with your stockings and down with your shoes,
If you haven't got apples, money will do.
Put your hand in your pocket and fetch out your keys,
Go down in the cellar and fetch out what you please,
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
A bottle of wine to make us all merry.
The roads are so dirty, our boots are so thin,
Our pockets are empty and got nothing in.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of journalist Gail Sheehy, born in Mamaroneck, New York (1937). Just before her 40th birthday, she published her fifth and most famous book, Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life. The book was a number-one bestseller in 1977, and in 1991, it came in ninth in a Library of Congress survey of the most influential books in people's lives.

Gail Sheehy said, "It is a paradox that as we reach our prime, we also see there is a place where it finishes."

It's the birthday of theater producer David Merrick, born David Margulies in St. Louis, Missouri (1911).
David Merrick said, "I'll tell you what's like to be Number One. I compare it to climbing Mt. Everest. It's very difficult. Lives are lost along the way. You struggle and struggle and finally you get up there. And guess what there is once you get up there? Snow and ice."

It's the birthday of writer James Agee, born in Knoxville, Tennessee (1909). He was 16 when his father was killed in a car accident, and as an adult he worked for nearly two decades, on and off, on a manuscript that tried to recreate, as he put it, "my childhood and my father, exactly as I can remember and represent them." He never finished it; but after he died it was published as the novel A Death in the Family, and won the Pulitzer Prize (1957). He's also the author of the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), generally considered to be a masterpiece. He was an obsessive person, an insatiable talker, addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, and Benzedrine. He died of a heart attack in a New York cab in 1955, with no will, no insurance, and $450 in the bank.

It's the birthday of writer and actress Fanny Kemble, born in London (1809). She was one of the most famous actresses of the American stage: Whitman mentions her in Leaves of Grass. She owned property that later became the site of Tanglewood in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. There, according to one historian, "She fished, she wore loose trousers, she rode alone, didn't water her punch and so got all the 'best' inhabitants quite drunk at tea one day, as she read unexpurgated versions of Shakespeare."

It's the birthday of statesman and amateur scientist Robert Livingston, born in New York City (1746). He became one of the twelve New York delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, and served on the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson appointed him ambassador to France, where with the help of James Monroe, he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He also experimented with steam power, and entered into a partnership with Robert Fulton: the first successful steamboat voyage, up the Hudson from New York to Albany, was made in 1807 by Fulton's boat, the Clermont.

It's the birthday of astronomer Anders Celsius, born in Uppsala, Sweden (1701). He took part in two expeditions that verified Newton's theory that the earth is slightly flattened at its poles. He oversaw the construction of the first modern observatory in Sweden, but despite his contributions to astronomy, he is best known today as the inventor of the Celsius, or centigrade, thermometer.

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