Tim Fountain, Marcelin Pleynet, Robert Bly, Norman Maclean, J.J.L. ten Kate, Iván Mándy, Harry Shearer, Albert Ehrenstein, G.A. Sainte-Beuve, Giusepe di Lampedusa, Mathilde Wesendonck, Martin Opitz

De Britse schrijver Tim Fountain werd geboren op 23 december 1967 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: Icons: Quentin Crisp


„If Quentin Crisp had not existed, I doubt anyone would have had the nerve to invent him. With his rouged cheeks, painted toenails and vast ‘bird’s nest’ comb-over hair, the self-styled “stately homo” of England looked like a creature from another planet. And it wasn’t just Crisp’s appearance, which he described as “a leaflet thrust into the hands of astonished bystanders”, that marked him out from the rest of society; his views, too, often made him an outsider. Cleaning was a waste of time because “after the first four years the dust doesn’t get any worse”, sex was “the last refuge of the miserable” and Princess Diana was “trash who got what she deserved”. The celebrated writer and raconteur described himself as a man who was merely famous for wearing make-up, and yet when he died in 1999 it was headline news on the BBC and even the Daily Mail devoted two pages to the subject. But who was the real Quentin Crisp, or to use Mail parlance, “the man behind the mascara”, and what made him such an unlikely superstar?

This was the question the actor Bette Bourne and myself attempted to answer when we went to visit Crisp in New York on a freezing March day in 1999 to research Resident Alien, the play I was writing about him. It provided a fascinating insight. Despite being 90 years old at the time and globally famous (the TV version of his book, The Naked Civil Servant, starring John Hurt, played to millions of people all over the world), Crisp was still living in the tiny, filthy, one-room apartment off the Bowery that he had emigrated to in 1980. The electricity in the building was so weak that it wouldn’t power the doorbell, so Bette had to call him from the box on the corner to get him to let us in. When he did so, the ancient icon greeted us at the door in his trademark fedora hat and scarf and stars-and-stripes brooch before leading us up the narrow staircase to perhaps the most famous bedsit in the world.

Nothing, not even a lifetime of quotes about his hatred of domestic chores, could have prepared me for what I saw. The room was tiny and utterly filthy, the curtains were thick with dirt, which obscured the light, and his tiny two-ring stove was utterly coated in grime. When Crisp first moved into this apartment, someone accused him of having the dust shipped in from Fortnum and Mason; if he had, they must have stopped delivering in recent years because this dirt was real. Crisp clearly practised what he preached.“



Tim Fountain (Dewsbury, 23 december 1967)



De Franse dichter, schrijver en essayist Marcelin Pleynet werd geboren op 23 december 1933 in Lyon. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.

Uit: Le Propre du temps

Avec cette langue-ci
bien avant l’injustice
à disposition
comme si c’était possible
je cherche dans l’histoire du temps
de la vérité dans l’erreur

J’ai rêvé…
la flotte achéenne dans le Golfe
les drapeaux tendus
l’or noir brûlant dans les déserts
la fumée épaisse sur nous
grassement payés
un océan de pétrole où flottait la navicella del nostro ingenio

Avec les deux yeux
j’ai rêvé
le grec et l’hébreu en même temps

Pensée en même temps sauvage et bornée : la fratrie universelle
cette machine de guerre du refoulement
“Qui aura le pied assez vif pour en sortir d’un bond ?”
Lequel est le chef ?
Qui commande l’armée ?
Nous sommes légion !


Uit: Stanze

Chant IV

Éclair ou tonnerre
Lucrèce ami de tout au monde le dit
ainsi par l’univers s’envolent les pensées de
la nature
Quant à moi en lisant je suis sans maître et sans
Et je laisse vers moi l’année perdue dans
la matière
Et ces sages roseaux ceux qui disent la science
Et les éclats de leur vie cachée selon le rythme des
héros lorsque je les rencontre dans l’histoire comme
Dante aux enfers
toujours luttant contre l’obscurité
et toujours sans repos
Sans limite là ne sachant plus ce que je peux trouver
avec joie
Et pourtant comme tant d’autres porteurs d’étincelles
dans le vide
Après des siècles ce qui n’est plus continue de chanter
dans la saveur brûlante du plais
ir et de la poésie
où il porta l’art-guerre docti furor arduus Lucreti
le premier
plus proche dans la grande douleur vidée
de l’univers et de l’océan qui l’emporte histoire opéra
de la science logique à la portée de notre histoire
comme à la porte des enfers


Marcelin Pleynet (Lyon, 23 december 1933)


De Amerikaanse dichter en schrijver Robert Bly werd geboren op 23 december 1926 in Madison, Minnesota. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Snowbanks North of the House


Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six

feet from the house …

Thoughts that go so far.

The boy gets out of high school and reads no more


the son stops calling home.

The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no

more bread.

And the wife looks at her husband one night at a

party, and loves him no more.

The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls

leaving the church.

It will not come closer

the one inside moves back, and the hands touch

nothing, and are safe.


The father grieves for his son, and will not leave the

room where the coffin stands.

He turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.


And the sea lifts and falls all night, the
moon goes on

through the unattached heavens alone.


The toe of the shoe pivots

in the dust …

And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back

down the hill.

No one knows why he came, or why he turned away,

and did not climb the hill.



The Cat in the Kitchen

(For Donald Hall)


Have you heard about the boy who walked by

The black water? I won’t say much more.

Let’s wait a few years. It wanted to be entered.

Sometimes a man walks by a pond, and a hand

Reaches out and pulls him in.


There was no

Intention, exactly. The pond was lonely, or needed

Calcium, bones would do. What happened then?


It was a little like the night wind, which is soft,

And moves slowly, sighing like an old woman

In her kitchen late at night, moving pans

About, lighting a fire, making some food for the cat.



Robert Bly (Madison, 23 december 1926)


De Amerikaanse schrijver Norman Fitzroy Maclean werd geboren op 23 december 1902 in Clarinda, Iowa. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: Young Men and Fire


„Then Dodge saw it. Rumsey and Sallee didn’t, and probably none of the rest of the crew did either. Dodge was thirty-three and foreman and was supposed to see; he was in front where he could see. Besides, he hadn’t liked what he had seen when he looked down the canyon after he and Harrison had returned to the landing area to get something to eat, so his seeing powers were doubly on the alert. Rumsey and Sallee were young and they were crew and were carrying tools and rubbernecking at the fire across the gulch. Dodge takes only a few words to say what the “it” was he saw next: “We continued down the canyon for approximately five minutes before I could see that the fire had crossed Mann Gulch and was coming up the ridge toward us.”

Neither Rumsey nor Sallee could see the fire that was now on their side of the gulch, but both could see smoke coming toward them over a hogback directly in front. As for the main fire across the gulch, it still looked about the same to them, “confined to the upper third of the slope.”

At the Review, Dodge estimated they had a 150- to 200-yard head start on the fire coming at them on the north side of the gulch. He immediately reversed direction and started back up the canyon, angling toward the top of the ridge on a steep grade. When asked why he didn’t go straight for the top there and then, he answered that the ground was too rocky and steep and the fire was coming too fast to dare to go at right angles to it.

You may ask yourself how it was that of the crew only Rumsey and Sallee survived. If you had known ahead of time that only two would survive, you probably never would have picked these two—they were first-year jumpers, this was the first fire they had ever jumped on, Sallee was one year younger than the minimum age, and around the base they were known as roommates who had a pretty good time for themselves. They both became big operators in the world of the woods and prairies, and part of this story will be to find them and ask them why they think they alone survived, but even if ultimately your answer or theirs seems incomplete, this seems a good place to start asking the question. In their statements soon after the fire, both say that the moment Dodge reversed the route of the crew they became alarmed, for, even if they couldn’t see the fire, Dodge’s order was to run from one. They reacted in seconds or less. They had been traveling at the end of the line because they were carrying unsheathed saws. When the head of the line started its switchback, Rumsey and Sallee left their positions at the end of the line, put on extra speed, and headed straight uphill, connecting with the front of the line to drop into it right behind Dodge.“



Norman Maclean (23 december 1902 – 2 augustus 1990)
Portret door Janet Hamlin


De Nederlandse dichter-dominee Jan Jakob Lodewijk ten Kate werd geboren op 23 december 1819 in Den Haag. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Het nachtegaaltje.

Een woord vooraf aan de kleine Lezers.


In zijn groene looverzaaltje,

Waar het warme zonnestraaltje

Vriendelijkjes binnenschiet,

Zingt het vrolijk nachtegaaltje

Onvermoeid zijn lentelied.


Wat al deuntjes kwinkeleert hij,

Wat al trillertjes schakeert hij,

Zoet en zangrig voor ’t gehoor!

En geen ander loon begeert hij

Dan een toegenegen oor.

‘k Weet een boekje met gedichtjes,

Vol van prentjes en gezichtjes,

En van buiten marokijn:

Laat dat boekje, zoete wichtjes,

U een nachtegaaltje zijn!


Neemt de proef eens, lievelingen!

Kijkt het in, en ’t zal u zingen,

Mooije liedjes bij de vleet,

Snaaksche stukjes, wondre dingen,

Die ge zeker nooit vergeet!


Mogt ge dat de waarheid vinden,

Lieve kindren, welbeminden!

Grooter vreugde hadt ge niet,

Dan het drietal kindervrinden,

Dat u ’t nachtegaaltje biedt!


J.J.L. ten Kate (23 december 1819 – 24 december 1889)
Portret van J.J.L. ten Kate, door H.F.C. Ten Kate / J.P. Lange.



De Hongaarse Iván Mándy werd geboren op 23 december 1918 in Boedapest. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: Sylvia Plath


„Why does she mean so much to me? Maybe the most since Dostoevsky? It would be hard to explain. Besides, like all explanations in general, it’s not necessary to do so. So? The Bell Jar is on my shelf. I could never part with it, not even for a day. Actually, I don’t have lots of books. I am likely, at any time, to give a book to anyone, and I don’t make a fuss if I don’t get it back. I’ll never lend this book to anybody. Does it give me strength? Encouragement? I hardly think so. It isn’t some sort of nutrient. Do I read it every day? Or at least dip into it? I don’t take it into my hands for months. I feel its presence, though, its constant presence. Even so, whenever I look up at the shelf, an icy terror grips me.

Let’s pause here.

Icy terror.

A drama like hers had never overwhelmed me before. One so sincere and without an ounce of self pity. And yes, so true. A life of torment. And all with such great humor. Once, some time ago, I thought humor was a good protective. Maybe work is. That also kills. But at least it’s a worthy death.

It’s very significant, too that Sylvia Plath never invents anything. She’s not given to speculation. She’s not even concerned about where literature stands in her time. All the while, she is fundamentally modern, however. Such a true, opulent, lively modernity. This noble, aloof talent protects her from being fashionable. No, she won’t be fashionable. Still, she permeates into our lives.

I doubt anyone had any influence on her. Of course, that in itself isn’t a virtue. But what irony and self irony! And so her humor again! For instance, in one of her attempts at suicide. She wants to hang herself, but her body resists. At such a time my body always leaves me in a lurch. We could call this catastrophic humor. But why should we? What’s the point of pasting little labels on things? This is certain: this humor is entirely her own, and inimitable.

What could her weekdays have been like?

I received that book of letters put together by her mother. Unfortunately, I don’t know English. (This is quite depressing.) And so I gaze at the pictures. I turn the pages, I stare at each picture. Just like an old detective trying to track down something. An old detective who no longer has connections anywhere and now just works on his own.

The endpapers are strewn with childhood pictures. The little girl is smiling in nearly all of them. The smile expectant but still a bit anxious. At times her face clouds over and hardens in an odd way. Behind her a garden, a veranda with white columns, a beach, an ocean. Yes, it would be possible to live. The ocean and the beach are recurring backgrounds. The sandy beach in a blazing sun. This is a considerably later picture. Blonde and apparently bronze-brown, Sylvia Plath lies stretched out on the ocean beach. Again, she’s just smiling.“



Iván Mándy (23 december 1918 – 26 oktober 1995)


De Amerikaanse schrijver en komische acteur  Harry Shearer werd geboren op 23 december 1943 in Los Angeles. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2007 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: The Huffington Post Blog


Hey, Tiger, Lack of Privacy Is Part of the Deal


„The spectacle of near-celebrities going on Larry King Live to ask for the return of their privacy has been one of the long-running jokes of our era.  Now Tiger Woods puts a new spin on it with his profound-apology-but-give-me-my privacy press release. 

Memo to Tiger: if you really wanted your privacy, maybe you should just have played championship golf, lived on the prize money, and gone home.  Maybe you shouldn’t have inked dozens of deals with sponsors who were using your name and image to create a bond with potential consumers, a bond that’s implicitly aspirational.  The grandaddy of such advertising in the modern age, of course, is three simple words: “Be Like Mike”.  Once you’re asking people to be like you, you’re inviting them to wonder about the “you” they’re supposed to want to be like.  End of privacy.   In case your agents, lawyers, managers, and other handlers didn’t mention it, that’s the deal.“



Harry Shearer (Los Angeles, 23 december 1943)


De Oostenrijkse expressionistische dichter en schrijver Albert Ehrenstein werd op 23 december 1886 in Wenen geboren. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: Zigeuner


“Ich bin schuld. Ich habe der Feuerwehr von Motschidlan die Spritze verschafft. Schon als Kind konnte ich sehr schön schreiben und damals nützte man das aus. Der Onkel entdeckte meine kalligraphischen Fähigkeiten, der Ärger, in der Ferienzeit zu irgend einer Arbeitsleistung gepreßt zu werden, mag in das Konzept gedrungen sein, aber mein Widerstreben und meine Versuche zu entrinnen, nützten mir nicht: ich mußte heran. Während meiner republikanischen Periode betrachtete ich die Affäre als den Schandfleck meines Lebens und später – aus anderen Gründen – ebenfalls. Hätte ich doch damals dem ewigen: »Also geh, Rudolf, sei brav und schreib!« nicht gefolgt!

Es ist nicht zu verhehlen: ich war es, der das Majestätsgesuch abfaßte. Es kam ein günstiger Bescheid und bald darauf das Geld für die Spritze. Zahllose Kataloge, Utensilien und Branduniformen betreffend stellten sich ein. Nun ging es zu Ende mit den Kübeln und Feuerhaken. Unter der Dorfjugend grassierten zwar schon längst kleine Spritzen aus Hollunderholz. Aber die große Spritze der Erwachsenen funktionierte bedeutend besser. Vom Bach aus schoß der Strahl wahrhaftig über die Dorfkirche und dann war er noch so kräftig, daß ein Enterich, der ein wenig abbekam, die Muschel seiner Sehnsucht ungeöffnet liegen ließ und mit einem, die Schlechtigkeit der Welt bloßlegenden »Waat, Waat!« die Flucht ergriff.

 Das Löschgerät also war da, aber woher schnell einen Brand nehmen? Aber noch waren Zigeuner im Orte, Zigeuner, denen nichts Menschliches fremd war: sie eigneten sich alles an. Ihre Hütte stand nahe dem übelriechenden Schlachthaus, hart am Sumpf. Sie nährten sich vom Abfall und den Dingen, die sich gelegentlich zu ihnen fanden. Der Schlachttag war für sie ein Fest. Da durfte der Familienvater, der alte, graulockige Tonek dem Fleischhauer die Kuh hinrichten helfen, kleine Handreichungen fielen für ihn ab, die mit Schimpfwörtern belohnt wurden. Endlich bekam er die ersehnten Kaldaunen an den Kopf geworfen.”



Albert Ehrenstein (23 december 1886 – 8 april 1950)


De Franse dichter, schrijver en criticus Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve werd geboren op 23 december 1804 in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2006 en ook mijn
blog van 23 december 2008.






„On a comparé souvent l’impression mélancolique que produisent sur nous les bibliothèques, où sont entassés les travaux de tant de générations défuntes, à l’effet d’un cimetière peuplé de tombes. Cela ne nous a jamais semblé plus vrai que lorsqu’on y entre, non avec une curiosité vague ou un labeur trop empressé, mais guidé par une intention particulière d’honorer quelque nom choisi, et par un acte de piété studieuse à accomplir envers une mémoire. Si pourtant l’objet de notre étude ce jour-là, et en quelque sorte de notre dévotion, est un de ces morts fameux et si rares dont la parole remplit les temps, l’effet ne saurait être ce que nous disons; l’autel alors nous apparaît trop lumineux; il s’en échappe incessamment un puissant éclat qui chasse bien loin la langueur des regrets et ne rappelle que des idées de durée et de vie. La médiocrité, non plus, n’est guère propre à faire naître en nous

un sentiment d’espèce si délicate; l’impression qu’elle cause n’a rien que de stérile, et ressemble à de la fatigue ou à de la pitié. Mais ce qui nous donne à songer plus particulièrement et ce qui suggère à notre esprit mille pensées d’une morale pénétrante, c’est quand il s’agit d’un de ces hommes en partie célèbres et en partie oubliés, dans la mémoire desquels, pour ainsi dire, la lumière et l’ombre se joignent; dont quelque production toujours debout reçoit encore un vif rayon qui semble mieux éclairer la poussière et l’obscurité de tout le reste; c’est quand nous touchons à l’une de ces renommées recommandables et jadis brillantes, comme il s’en est vu beaucoup sur la terre, belles aujourd’hui, dans leur silence, de la beauté d’un cloître qui tombe, et à demi couchées, désertes et en ruine. Or, à part un très-petit nombre de noms grandioses et fortunés qui, par l’à-propos de leur venue, l’étoile constante de leurs destins, et aussi l’immensité des choses humaines et divines qu’ils ont les premiers reproduites glorieusement, conservent ce privilège éternel de ne pas vieillir, ce sort un peu sombre, mais fatal, est commun à tout ce qui porte dans l’ordre des lettres le titre de talent et même celui de génie.“



G.A. Sainte-Beuve (23 december 1804 – 13 oktober 1869)


De Italiaanse schrijver Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa werd geboren in Palermo op 23 december 1896. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2006 en ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Uit: The Leopard (Vertaald door Archibald Colquhoun)


The daily recital of the Rosary was over. For half an hour the steady voice of the Prince had recalled the Glorious and the Sorrowful Mysteries; for half an hour other voices had interwoven a lilting hum from which,
now and again, would chime some unlikely word: love, virginity, death; and during that hum the whole aspect of the rococo drawing room seemed to change; even the parrots spreading iridescent wings over the silken walls appeared abashed; even the Magdalen between the two windows looked a penitent and not just a handsome blonde lost in some dubious daydream, as she usually was.
Now, as the voices fell silent, everything dropped back into its usual order or disorder. Bendicò, the Great Dane, vexed at having been shut out, came barking through the door by which the servants had left. The women rose slowly to their feet, their oscillating skirts as they withdrew baring bit by bit the naked figures from mythology painted all over the milky depths of the tiles. Only an Andromeda remained covered by the soutane of Father Pirrone, still deep in extra prayer, and it was some time before she could sight the silvery Perseus swooping down to her aid and her kiss.
Thedivinities frescoed on the ceiling awoke. The troops of Tritons and Dryads, hurtling across from hill and sea amid clouds of cyclamen pink toward a transfigured Conca d’Oro,* and bent on glorifying the House of Salina, seemed suddenly so overwhelmed with exaltation as to discard the most elementary rules of perspective; meanwhile the major gods and goddesses, the Princes among gods, thunderous Jove and frowning Mars and languid Venus, had already preceded the mob of minor deities and were amiably supporting the blue armorial shield of the Leopard. They knew that for the next twenty-three and a half hours they would be lords of the villa once again. On the walls the monkeys went back to pulling faces at the cockatoos.“



Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (23 december 1896 – 23 juli 1957)


De Duitse dichteres en schrijfster Mathilde Wesendonck werd geboren als Agnes Luckemeyer op 23 december 1828 in Elberfeld. Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.



Sag’, welch’ wunderbare Träume

Halten meinen Sinn umfangen,

Daß sie nicht wie leere Schäume

Sind in ödes Nichts vergangen?


Träume, die in jeder Stunde,

Jedem Tage schöner blühn,

Und mit ihrer Himmelskunde

Selig durchs Gemüte ziehn?


Träume, die wie hehre Strahlen

In die Seele sich versenken,

Dort ein ewig Bild zu malen:

Allvergessen, Eingedenken!


Träume, wie wenn Frühlingssonne

Aus dem Schnee die Blüten küßt,

Daß zu nie geahnter Wonne

Sie der neue Tag begrüßt,


Daß sie wachsen, daß sie blühen,

Träumed spenden ihren Duft,

Sanft an deiner Brust verglühen,

Und dann sinken in die Gruft.



Mathilde Wesendonck (23 december 1828 – 31 augustus 1902)


De Duitse dichter Martin Opitz von Boberfeld werd geboren op 23 december 1597 in Bunzlau (Silezië). Zie ook mijn blog van 23 december 2008.


Sonnet XXXV.


    Ich wil diß halbe mich / was wir den Cörper nennen /

Diß mein geringstes Theil / verzehren durch die Glut /

Wil wie Alcmenen Sohn mit vnverwandtem Muth’

Hier diese meine Last / den schnöden Leib / verbrennen /

    Den Himmel auff zu gehn: mein Geist beginnt zu rennen

Auff etwas bessers zu. diß Fleisch / die Handvoll Blut /

Muß außgetauschet seyn vor ein viel besser Gut /

Daß sterbliche Vernunfft vnd Fleisch vnd Blut nicht kennen.

    Mein Liecht entzünde mich mit deiner Augen Brunst /

Auff daß ich dieser Haut/ deß finstern Leibes Dunst /

Deß Kerkers voller Wust vnd Grawens / werd entnommen /

    Vnd ledig / frey vnd loß / der Schwachheit abgethan /

Weit vber alle Lufft vnd Himmel fliegen kan

Die Schönheit an zu sehn von der die deine kommen.



Martin Opitz  (23 december 1597 – 20 augustus 1639)