Jul. 12, 2005

Beans in Blossom

by John Clare

TUESDAY, 12 JULY, 2005
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Poem: "Beans in Blossom" by John Clare.

Beans in Blossom

The south-west wind! how pleasant in the face
It breathes! while, sauntering in a musing pace,
I roam these new ploughed fields; or by the side
Of this old wood, where happy birds abide,
And the rich blackbird, through his golden bill,
Utters wild music when the rest are still.
Luscious the scent comes of the blossomed bean,
As o'er the path in rich disorder lean
Its stalks; when bees, in busy rows and toils,
Load home luxuriantly their yellow spoils.
The herd-cows toss the molehills in their play;
And often stand the stranger's steps at bay,
Mid clover blossoms red and tawny white,
Strong scented with the summer's warm delight.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, who was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817). We know him as the author of Walden, and the essay "Civil Disobedience." He became the first member of his family to go to college. He went to Harvard, but didn't much care for the place. He didn't much care for school teaching either. He went to live with Ralph Waldo Emerson in Concord and did odd jobs around the house and took care of the children. It was Emerson who encouraged Thoreau to write poetry and suggested that Thoreau keep a journal, both of which Thoreau continued to do for the rest of his life.

He was 27 years old when he built that little cabin on the edge of Walden Pond and moved in, in an attempt, he said, to "Simplify, simplify, simplify ... to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach."

It's the birthday of the man who gave us the Kodak camera, George Eastman, born in Waterville, New York. He was working at a bank when he got interested in photography around 1877. He took his first dry plate photograph the next year with the camera that he invented—a view of the building across the street from his window. He developed this little handheld camera, and he called it the Kodak because it was easy to remember, difficult to misspell, and it meant nothing, so it could only be associated with his product.

It's the birthday of a very prolific and productive lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, born in New York City (1895). He wrote lyrics for Sigmund Romberg. He wrote "Old Man River" and "Can't Help Loving That Man" for Jerome Kern's Showboat in 1927, and then all of the hits that he wrote with Richard Rogers, Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.

It's the birthday of the poet Pablo Neruda, born in Parral, Chile (1904). He was born Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but since his father didn't approve of him writing poetry, so he took the pen name Pablo Neruda.

It's the birthday of Julius Caesar, born in Rome around 100 B.C.

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