Sunday, February 27, 2011

Steinbeck, Elizabeth Taylor, Byron and The Tower of Pisa

Today the life and work of George Herbert ( April 3rd 1593 - March 1st 1633 ) are commemorated  in the Church of England. George Herbert was educated at Westminster and Cambridge and went on to become an Anglican priest. His mother Magdalen was a patron of John Donne among other poets and Donne would become godfather to George following the death of his father. 

He became rector of the rather wonderfully named parish of Fugglestone St Peter in Wiltshire and produced essentially religious poetry. As he lay dying of tuberculosis he reportedly gave a copy of his work to his great friend Nicholas Ferrar, the founder of a monastic Anglican community at Little Gidding. T.S. Eliot would later write his 'Four Quartets' - 'Little Gidding' the fourth and final one. I digress a bit but it's a fabulous poem, here's a  bit: 

'And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all. Either you had no purpose
Or the purpose is beyond the end you figured
And is altered in fulfilment.'

Herbert also wrote 'pattern poems' the idea I believe being that the reader should admire the shape of the text as well as the poem itself, I found an example on Wikipedia:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia, from the Noroton Anthology of Poetry.

There is a window in Westminster Abbey in his memory and a statue in Salisbury Cathedral. If you would like to discover more about him have a look here

On this day in 1812, Lord Byron first addressed the House of Lords, he spoke in defence of the Luddites and their  protestations against the pervasive growth of industrialism.

Today is the Saint Day of Saint Leander of Seville.

February the 27th 1900 saw the founding of the British Labour Party.

John Steinbeck was born on this day in 1902. As was Constantine 1 in 272.

Elizabeth Taylor and Lawrence Durrell also share this birthday - 1932 and 1912 respectively.

The first public performance on Holst's Planets was given on this day in 1919 in London, although incomplete, five of the seven pieces were played.

In 1964 the Italian government asked for help in order to preserve the Leaning Tower of Pisa - there was much concern that it would topple over in an earthquake or strong storm. Building of the Tower was undertaken in August 1173; it was intended to be vertical, currently it is at an incline of 10%. It was re-opened to visitors in 2001  after extensive renovations. 

I read The Grapes of Wrath at school and haven't looked at it since. Maybe I will. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.

Now, what's  for breakfast.

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