Thursday, 17 May 2012


“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak” - Thomas Carlyle
Today is:
Cayman Islands - Discovery Day
Norway - Constitution (National) Day (since 1814).

It is also the anniversary of the birth of:
Edward Jenner, English physician, pioneer of vaccination (1749);
Joseph Norman Lockyer, astronomer (1836);
Erik (Alfred Leslie) Satie, French composer (1866);
Dorothy Richardson, writer (1882);
Alfonso XIII, king of Spain (1886);
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iranian extremist (1900);
Jean Gabin (Jean-Alexis Moncorgé), actor (1904);
Maureen O'Sullivan, actress (1911);
Birgit Nilsson, opera singer (1918);
Dennis Hopper, actor (1936);
Kathleen Sullivan, actress (1953);
Grace Jones, singer (1955).

The thistle, Onopordum acanthium, is the birthday plant for this day.  Astrologically, this is a herb of Mars.  It symbolises defiance, independence, austerity desolation, grief and rejection.  It is the emblem of Scotland, adopted during the eight century when a Danish attack on Stirling Castle was unsuccessful because the barefooted Danish scouts cried out in pain when they encountered the plant, thus warning the Scots.  The thistle was adopted as an emblem with the motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (“Nobody provokes me with impunity”).  The thistle flower closes up before rain and was used as a weather oracle.

Erik Satie (1866-1925) was a French composer who rebelled against romanticism with his unorthodox and often whimsical compositions, such as Socrate (1918).  My favourite works of his are the Gymnopédies, especially the Gymnopédie No 1 (perhaps not so unorthodox, but certainly very beautiful).

Norway is a Scandinavian country that was united with Denmark since 1397 and with Sweden since 1814.  It gained its independence in 1905.  It has an area of about 323,000 square km and a population of about 5 million people.  It is a mountainous country, its coastline dominated by fjords.  The capital city is Oslo, other major cities being Stavanger, Kristiansand, Bergen and Trondheim.  It is rich in natural resources with crude oil and natural gas produced in abundance.  Chemical production, metal industries and paper manufacture rely on the cheap, hydroelectrical power that is produced.

Died on this day: 
In 1163, Héloïse, French secret wife of Abelard; in 1510, Sandro Botticelli, Italian artist; in 1935, Paul Dukas, French composer.

No comments:

Post a Comment