Literary Birthdays – Week of March 1 – 7

March 1

Ralph Ellison (born March 1, 1914) – U.S. crime fiction novelist – Invisible Man (1952)

See this dramatization of the opening to Invisible Man on Youtube:

March 2

Janos Arany
(born March 2, 1817) – Hungarian poet, journalist – The Bards of Wales / A walesi bárdok
Excerpt from The Bards of Wales epic poem:

Edward the king, the English king,
Bestrides his tawny steed,
“For I will see if Wales” said he,
“Accepts my rule indeed.”

“Are stream and mountain fair to see?
Are meadow grasses good?
Do corn-lands bear a crop more rare
Since wash’d with rebel’s blood?”

“And are the wretched people there,
Whose insolence I broke,
As happy as the oxen are
Beneath the driver’s yoke?”

“In truth this Wales, Sire, is a gem,
The fairest in thy crown:
The stream and field rich harvest yield,
And fair are dale and down.”

“And all the wretched people there
Are calm as man could crave;
Their hovels stand throughout the land
As silent as the grave.”

Edward the king, the English king,
Bestrides his tawny steed;
A silence deep his subjects keep
And Wales is mute indeed.

Hear The Bards of Wales (in Hungarian) on Youtube:

March 3
Yury (Karlovich) Olesha (born March 3, 1899) – Russian novelist, playwright – Zavist (Envy) (1927)

March 4

Robert Orben (born March 4, 1927) – U.S. comedy writer, political speech writer – The Working Comedian’s Gag File (1953)

March 5
MC Solaar
(born March 5, 1969) – Senegalese rapper

First verse of La Vie Est Belle

Seul dans ma chambre, un jour normal – Alone in my room on a normal day
J’apprends dans les journaux que j’suis dans l’Axe du Mal – I see in the papers that I am in the Axis of Evil
Je lis entre les lignes et j’comprends qu’on veut me “kill” – I read between the lines and understand that they want to kill me
Donc j’ferme la serrure pour être un peu plus tranquille – So I lock the door for a little more quiet

Dehors c’est la guerre et j’crois qu’elle vient vers moi – Outside it’s war and I know it’s coming towards me
Malgré les manifs qui vivra la verra – Despite the demons who will live to see it
Je mets des sacs de sable dans mon salon – I put sandbags in my living room
Des salauds veulent me shooter comme au foot le stoppeur peut shooter l’ballon – The bastards want to shoot me like a stopper shoots a soccer ball

A la télé j’entends qu’j’suis l’pire des mecs – On TV I’m the worst of the bad guys
Non violent, violent la propagande est impec – Nonviolent, violent propaganda is impeccable
J’flippe des troupes spéciales, des B52’s – The special troops, the B52’s flip me out
Regrette ce que j’ai fait j’crois que j’aurais pu faire mieux – I regret what I did and believe I could have done better

Mais l’erreur est humaine, j’avoue j’ai fait des erreurs – But to err is human, and I confess I made errors
Prendre position c’est prendre une pluie de terreur – To take a position is to take the rain of terror
Au nom du père, du fils, et du Saint Esprit – In the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit
D’l’Imam et du Rabbin, plus jamais ceci. – Of the Imam and the Rabbi, forever and ever.

Comme un oiseau sans ailes – Like a bird without wings
J’vole vers le ciel mais j’sais qu’la vie est belle
– I fly towards heaven but I know that life is beautiful

Comme un oiseau sans ailes
J’vole vers le ciel mais j’sais qu’la vie est belle
See this music video of MC Solaar performing
La Vie Est Belle:

March 6
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
(b. 1806) – U.S. poet –

First and last verses from “Mother and Poet”
Dead ! One of them shot by the sea in the east,
And one of them shot in the west by the sea.
Dead ! both my boys ! When you sit at the feast
And are wanting a great song for Italy free,
Let none look at me !
Yet I was a poetess only last year,
And good at my art, for a woman, men said ;
But this woman, this, who is agonized here,
— The east sea and west sea rhyme on in her head
For ever instead.
What art can a woman be good at ? Oh, vain !
What art is she good at, but hurting her breast
With the milk-teeth of babes, and a smile at the pain ?
Ah boys, how you hurt ! you were strong as you pressed,
And I proud, by that test.
What art’s for a woman ? To hold on her knees
Both darlings ! to feel all their arms round her throat,
Cling, strangle a little ! to sew by degrees
And ‘broider the long-clothes and neat little coat ;
To dream and to doat.
* * *
Forgive me. Some women bear children in strength,
And bite back the cry of their pain in self-scorn ;
But the birth-pangs of nations will wring us at length
Into wail such as this — and we sit on forlorn
When the man-child is born.
Dead ! One of them shot by the sea in the east,
And one of them shot in the west by the sea.
Both ! both my boys ! If in keeping the feast
You want a great song for your Italy free,
Let none look at me !

March 7
Georges Perec (b. 1936) – French novelist, poet, essayist – La Disparition (The Void) (1969)

Read about Perec’s work here



About litbirthdays

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