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Photo of Robert Penn Warren.

April 24, 2018 – Robert Penn Warren, Other Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays

Today is Tuesday, April 24, 2018. It’s the birthday of poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren. It’s also the birthday of composer John Williams. And it’s the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising. Our poem for today is “Vision” by Warren. Let’s have a fine Tuesday. Thank you for subscribing.

Robert Penn Warren

Robert Penn Warren (affiliate link) received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. But before he reported in the fall of 1921, his younger brother hit him in the left eye with a rock.

Warren lost the eye and his chance to become a cadet in the Naval Academy. Instead, he enrolled at Vanderbilt University at 16.Photo of Robert Penn Warren.

At Vanderbilt, Warren fell under the influence of literature professors such as John Crowe Ransom and Allen Tate. Warren’s involvement with Ransom led to his writing for a campus literary magazine titled, The Fugitive.

Fugitive poets, as they became known, worked to bring Southern literature nationwide recognition. After The Fugitive ceased publishing in 1925, some Fugitives, including Warren, created a spin-off group titled the Agrarians.

Along with promoting Southern writers, the Agrarians defended Southern legacy and culture. The group supported racism and segregation.

After Vanderbilt, Warren attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He then taught at various schools, including Louisiana State University. There he helped found The Southern Review literary magazine.

Warren published in 1939 his first novel, “Night Rider.” He also wrote or contributed to poetry textbooks in the 1930s and 1940s.

And in 1946, Warren produced “All the King’s Men.” It’s a novel about political corruption in Depression-era Louisiana, based on the real-life Huey Long. The book netted Warren his first Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

By the mid-20th century, Warren’s views on segregation and white supremacy started to change. He published in 1965, “Who Speaks for the Negro?” The book is a series of interviews Warren conducted in 1964 with those involved in the civil rights movement in the South.

Warren also produced several volumes of poetry, including 1957’s “Promises,” and “Now and Then: Poems 1976-1977.” He won Pulitzers for both.

Born on this date in 1905 in Guthrie, KY, Warren became U.S. poet laureate in 1986. He passed away in 1989.

John Williams

John Williams (affiliate link) worked as a studio pianist for films such as “Some Like It Hot” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And he composed music for TV shows, including “Gilligan’s Island.”

Director Steven Spielberg gave Williams an opportunity to compose his first feature film, “The Sugarland Express,” in 1974.

Williams and Spielberg teamed up the following year on a film whose score is one of the most famous in Hollywood history. That movie was “Jaws.”

Other Spielberg films scored by Williams over the years include “Jurassic Park,” the “Indiana Jones” series, and “Schindler’s List.”

Williams composed scores for all six of George Lucas’s “Star Wars” films. And he composed music for the first three “Harry Potter” films.

Williams, born on this date in Queens, NY, in 1935, received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2004 and a National Medal of Arts in 2009.

Williams is also the most nominated living person in Oscars history. He has 51 nominations, trailing Walt Disney’s 59 nominations to become the most nominated person ever.

Easter Rising Takes Place

On this date in 1916, Easter Sunday, Irish nationalists declared independence from Britain and the founding of the Irish Republic.

The rebels seized government buildings in Dublin and battled British troops. The Easter Rising, as it’s called, ended a week later with more than 2,000 dead. Britain maintained control of Ireland.

Five years later, in December 1921, a treaty established the Irish Free State as part of the British Commonwealth. But six counties in Northern Ireland opted out of the agreement, choosing to stay part of the United Kingdom.

On April 18, 1949, 26 counties of Southern and Western Ireland formed the independent Republic of Ireland.


I shall build me a house where the larkspur blooms

       In a narrow glade in an alder wood,

Where the sunset shadows make violet glooms,

       And a whip-poor-will calls in eerie mood.


I shall lie on a bed of river sedge,

       And listen to the glassy dark,

With a guttered light on my window ledge,

       While an owl stares in at me white and stark.


I shall burn my house with the rising dawn,

       And leave but the ashes and smoke behind,

And again give the glade to the owl and the fawn,

       When the grey wood smoke drifts away with the wind.

– Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)

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