Thursday, 6 March 2008

CUCKOO!


“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” – Abigail Adams

The ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi, is the birthday plant for this day. The generic name is derived from the Greek word, lychnos = lamp, in reference to the bright flowers of this herb. The specific name means “cuckoo flower” in Latin and refers to flowering of the plant when the cuckoo is in full song. In the language of flowers, it symbolises wit and ardour.

Several notables were born today, many of them literary figures or artists:
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italian artist (1475);
Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac, writer (1619);
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet (1806);
George (Louis Palmella Busson) du Maurier, novelist (1834);
Oscar Straus, composer (1870);
Louis Francis Cristillo (Costello), actor (1906);
Frankie Howerd, comedian (1922);
Wes Montgomery, guitarist (1925);
Andrzej Wajda, director (1926);
Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate (1982) writer (1928);
Lorin Maazel, conductor (1930);
Valentina Nikolayevna Tereshkova, Russian astronaut first woman in space (1937);
Kiri Te Kanawa, NZ soprano (1944);
Mary Wilson, singer (1944).

Here is a well known poem by birthday girl Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Sonnets from the Portuguese - Sonnet XLIII

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, – I love thee with the breath
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall love thee better after death.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

And the word of the day is ardour (ardor for our American cousins), which was certainly shown by many of our notable birthday boys and girls:

ardour |ˈärdər| noun
enthusiasm or passion : they felt the stirrings of revolutionary ardor.
ORIGIN late Middle English: Via Old French from Latin ardor, from ardere ‘to burn.’

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