Today is Monday, March 19, 2018. It’s Philip Roth’s birthday. And it’s the birthday of artist Charles Marion Russell and Irish poet William Allingham. It’s from Allingham that we have today’s poem, “In a Spring Grove.” May your day come with moments of joy and peace. Thank you for reading and supporting Bidwell Hollow. You are appreciated.
It took four nominations, but Philip Roth (affiliate link) finally won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for his novel, “American Pastoral.”
The book is set in 1995, but it’s about the demise of Seymour “Swede” Levov in the 1960s. The narrator is a character named Nathan Zuckerman.
Zuckerman first appeared in a Roth novel in 1979 with “The Ghost Writer.” Roth produced two more books with Zuckerman as the protagonist. But Zuckerman plays a part in five more Roth works, including “American Pastoral.”
Roth’s first book was a 1959 short story collection, titled “Goodbye, Columbus.” His first novel, “Letting Go,” came out three years later.
“American Pastoral” was Roth’s twenty-third published book. The author was a successful novelist when it published in 1997. By then, he’d already received three Pulitzer Prize nominations.
But winning eluded Roth until “American Pastoral” finally netted him the prize.
Roth retired from writing in 2012. When asked in January if he regrets that decision, Roth said, “Every talent has its terms — its nature, its scope, its force; also its term, a tenure, a lifespan. Not everyone can be fruitful forever.”
Charles Marion Russell
At 16, Charles Marion Russell (affiliate link) showed up in central Montana’s Judith Basin. Russell, born today in 1864 in St. Louis, MO, grew up wanting to be a cowboy. Now was his chance.
After an unsuccessful turn on a sheep ranch, a trapper named Jake Hoover mentored Russell. The two lived in Hoover’s cabin along the South Fork of the Judith River. There, Hoover taught Russell the ways of the American West.
Russell started working in 1882 as a night herder for cattle ranchers. He was already drawing and sketching by this time. And so he worked at night while spending his days illustrating late 19th century Montana.
Russell spent the summer of 1888 living near the camps of a few Native American tribes in Alberta, Canada. The experience gave him insight into a Native American way of life that was disappearing.
In 1893, Russell retired from being a cowboy to become a full-time artist. By 1903, he had a studio made of logs in Great Falls, MT, where he worked.
It’s in that studio that Russell created most of his 4,000 works of art. He painted and sculpted, using his pieces to tell the story of the American West.
Russell was one of the first artists who depicted the West who lived there. That exposure lent Russell’s work an authenticity that’s visible in his work still today.
A Russell painting hangs in the Montana State Capitol. In 2005, a Russell painting sold at auction for $5.6 million. And in 2014, 30 Russell pieces sold for prices ranging from $25,000 to $1.9 million.
William Allingham (affiliate link) was born today in Ballyshannon, Ireland, in 1824.
As a teenager, Allingham wrote poetry while working with his father in a bank. At 19, Allingham took a post as a customs officer in Northern Ireland, where he worked for 20 years.
During this time, Allingham made frequent trips to London. He began contributing poems to several London periodicals. And he came under the tutelage of critic Leigh Hunt and poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Allingham retired from the Civil Service in 1870. He moved to London, taking up a job as an assistant editor at Fraser’s Magazine. He became editor of the publication four years later.
Along with running the magazine, Allingham published six poetry collections. Many of his poems reflect his native Ireland, from the country’s landscape to its people.
“In a Spring Grove”
Here the white-ray’d anemone is born,
Wood-sorrel, and the varnish’d buttercup;
And primrose in its purfled green swathed up,
Pallid and sweet round every budding thorn,
Gray ash, and beech with rusty leaves outworn.
Here, too, the darting linnet hath her nest
In the blue-lustered holly, never shorn,
Whose partner cheers her little brooding breast,
Piping from some near bough. O simple song!
O cistern deep of that harmonious rillet,
And these fair juicy stems that climb and throng
The vernal world, and unexhausted seas
Of flowing life, and soul that asks to fill it,
Each and all these,—and more, and more than these!
– William Allingham (1824-1889), Public Domain