Apr. 8, 2005

I Will Make You Brooches

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Poem: "I Will Make You Brooches," by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I Will Make You Brooches

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist Barbara Kingsolver, born in Annapolis, Maryland (1955), who grew up in rural Kentucky. Her first novel was The Bean Trees (1988). She's also the author of Pigs in Heaven (1993), and The Poisonwood Bible (1998).

It's the birthday of journalist Seymour Hersh, born in Chicago (1937), who broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

It's the birthday of jazz singer Carmen McRae, born in Harlem, New York (1920). At 19 she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater on 125th street in Harlem. She was noticed by the wife of pianist Teddy Wilson, who played for Billie Holiday—and so was able to meet her greatest musical inspiration. "If Billie Holiday had never existed," she said years later, "I probably wouldn't have either."

It's the birthday of editor and publisher Robert Giroux, born in New Jersey (1914). He worked his way through the ranks of what was then Harcourt, Brace & Company, and discovered author Jean Stafford. Later, he discovered Bernard Malamud, and published Malamud's first novel, The Natural, in 1952. Other authors he edited in his long career include Carl Sandburg, Flannery O' Connor, Jack Kerouac, and T.S. Eliot.

It's the birthday of novelist John Fante, born in Denver, Colorado (1911). He settled in L.A. during the depression, and wrote many novels set there-including Ask the Dust (1939), Full of Life (1952), Brotherhood of the Grape (1977) and Dreams from Bunker Hill (1982).

It's the birthday of songwriter (E.Y.) "Yip" Harburg, born in New York City (1898). He wrote the words to "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (1932), "April in Paris" (1932), and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (1939), among others.

On this day in 1871, Robert Louis Stevenson, 20 years old, told his father he was giving up engineering to become a writer. He suffered from chronic poor health—he would die of tuberculosis at 44—which had made schooling difficult, yet he was expected to carry on his father's trade of lighthouse design. He married a divorced American, and the couple moved to Switzerland, where he wrote the adventure story Treasure Island (1883). He later wrote Kidnapped (1887), and A Child's Garden of Verses (1885).

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