Today in History: July 13

Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky. […]
—The opening of “Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth

The full title of William Wordsworth’s poem is “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798.” The Romantic Movement in English poetry can be dated to July 13, 1798, when Wordsworth and his sister walked near the ruined Cistercian abbey in Wales. (Photo above.)

Wordsworth established the Romantic credo of favoring feeling over intellect with the poem … and with his claims about the poem: the entire 1200-line-poem occurred to him as a thought, he said, and he kept it in his head until he had a chance to write it down in one session some time later. He recounted, “No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four or five days with my notes. Not a line of it was altered, not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol.” True or not, this and Wordsworth’s next poems and the works of his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge started a revolution in literature.

* * * *
Frank Sinatra and the Harry James Orchestra recorded his first official single, “From the Bottom of My Heart” (Brunswick 8443) on this date in 1939. The B-side was “Melancholy Mood.” Neither song attracted much attention—fewer than 8000 copies were sold. Sinatra continued to record with James and his band through 1939 until Tommy Dorsey requested Sinatra’s services. The recording:

* * * *
Live Aid took place in two concert venues—Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia—on this date in 1985.

* * * *
Alfred Stieglitz died 70 years ago today. Arnold Schoenberg died 65 years ago today. Frida Kahlo died on this date in 1954. Joy Davidman died on this date in 1960. George Steinbrenner died in 2010 on this date.

Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell in Texas on this date last year.

* * * *
Kenneth Clark, Baron Clark was born on this date in 1903. The late Paul Prudhomme was born on this date in 1940.

* * * *
Wole Soyinka is 82 today. Sir Patrick Stewart is 76. Robert Forster is 75. Harrison Ford is 74. Roger McGuinn is 74. “You Bowed Down,” written for Roger McGuinn by Elvis Costello:

Cheech Marin is 70. Tony Kornheiser is 68. Cameron Crowe is 59. Ian Hislop is 56. Spud Webb is 53.

* * * *
Captain Jean-Luc Picard will be born on this date in 2305. (See entry for “Stewart, Sir Patrick” above.)

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