Literary Birthdays: December 28 – January 3

December 28

Mortimer J. Adler (born December 28, 1902) – U.S. philosopher, essayist – How To Read a Book (1940)

December 29

Dallas Austin (born December 29, 1970) – U.S. Songwriter –

First Verse and Chorus – Silly Ho (1999) (performed by TLC)
I ain’t never been no Silly Ho
Waiting for your call
Like the other girls want you
I ain’t never been no one to mess
With someone else’s mess
That’s not a thing for me to do
I ain’t never been that chickenhead
To wake up in your bed
After every club or two
Wanna be the one in that mini skirt
Always wanna flirt
With every player on the team

If you really wanna find
Someone to get some behind
I ain’t the one for you
If you really wanna know
Boy you need a silly ho
To do whatever you wanna do
If you really wanna find
Someone to get some behind
I ain’t the one for you
If you really wanna know
Boy you need a silly ho
To do whatever you wanna do
Oooh oo

December 30

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (born December 30, 1865) – British author and poet –  The Jungle Book (1894) (short stories)

December 31

Odetta Holmes Gordon (born December 31, 1930; d. December 2, 2008) – U.S. Singer, songwriter, civil rights activist

Lyrics to “Anthem Of The Rainbow” (on the album Odetta Sings Folk Songs, released 1963)
If all the grasses are yellow
Then what color are the tears
That are shed for all the young fellows
In the armies along the frontiers

If all the grasses are purple
Then what color is the sky
Under which young men are marching
For none know the reason why

Once you dressed in the colors of flowers
Now you dress in black
And look out your window for hours
For the men to come marching back

Well what if the poppies are orange?
And what if roses are red?
What cares a girl for flowers
When the one she loves is dead?

If all the rivers are golden
Silver, the color of rain
When shall a maid and her soldier
Feel lovers’ warmth again?

For what does it matter
If October leaves are brown
If your love since last September
Has been sleeping ‘neath the ground

If all the grasses are yellow
Then what color are the tears
That are shed for all the young fellows
In the armies along the frontiers

January 1

EM Forster

Edward Morgan Forster (born January 1, 1879) – British novelist – A Passage to India

Ismail al-Faruqi

Isma’il Raji al-Faruqi (born January 1, 1921) – Palestinian philosopher – Al-Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life

January 2

St Teresa-de-Lisieux

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (born January 2, 1873) – French Roman Catholic nun – L’Histoire d’une Âme (The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux)

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (born January 2, 1920) – Russian-American science fiction writer – Foundation (1951)

January 3

JRR Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (born January 3,  1892) – British fantasy fiction author and poet

Read about J.R.R. Tolkien here and here

Read about Tolkien’s inventing the Elvish languages Qenya and Sindarin here

“Qenya is the Elvish Latin – a literary language not used as a spoken vernacular; it was reserved for poetry, for song, for lament, for magic,” says Hoyt. “Whereas Sindarin, at least among the elves in his book, was a spoken language.”

Qenya is based on the grammatical principles of Finnish and, on paper, has similar dots and umlauts to indicate any changes in sound of the various characters. Also, words in Finnish and Qenya have a high number of possible word endings depending on the context of the sentence.

Sindarin, described in the books as a descendant of Qenya, is based heavily on Welsh, one of Tolkien’s favourite languages because of the way it sounded.

Read about Tolkien’s dwarves as representing the Jewish people here

Watch a 1968 TV biographical documentary of Tolkien

Goblin Feet (1915)
I am off down the road
Where the fairy lanterns glowed
And the little pretty flitter-mice are flying:
A slender band of grey
It runs creepily away
And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing.

The air is full of wings
Of the blundery beetle-things
That warn you with their whirring and their humming
O! I hear the tiny horns
Of enchanted leprechauns
And the padding feet of many gnomes a-coming!

O! the lights. O! the gleams: O! the little tinkly sounds:
O! the rustle of their noiseless little robes:
O! the echo of their feet, of their little happy feet:
O! their swinging lamps in little star-lit globes.

I must follow in their train
Down the crooked fairy lane
Where the coney-rabbits long ago have gone,
And where silvery they sing
In a moving moonlit ring
All a-twinkle with the jewels they have on.

They are fading round the turn
Where the glow-worms palely burn
And the echo of their padding feet is dying!
O! it’s knocking at my heart—
Let me go! O! let me start!
For the little magic hours are all a-flying.

O! the warmth! O! the hum! O! the colours in the dark!
O! the gauzy wings of golden honey-flies!
O! the music of their feet—of their dancing goblin feet!
O! the magic! O! the sorrow when it dies.

Read more Tolkien poems here


Marcus Tullius Cicero (born January 3, 106 BC) – Roman philosopher – “Laelius De Amicitia” (Laellius on Friendship)
Excerpt from “Laelius On Friendship” translated by W.A. Falconer
“But inasmuch as things human are frail and fleeting, we must be ever on the search for some persons whom we shall love and who will love us in return; for if goodwill and affection are taken away, every joy is taken from life. For me, indeed, though he was suddenly snatched away, Scipio still lives and will always live; for it was his virtue that caused my love and that is not dead.”

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