Today in History
in History is a feature that highlights significant events
or figures in American history associated with a particular
day. Every Today in History feature includes a brief essay
supported by primary resources, followed by a bulleted listed
which offers suggestions for finding related Library of Congress
resources. Below are Today in History features that highlight
poets or poetry-related events.
Today in History Poetry Features
On November 29, Louisa May Alcott was born. Best known
as the author of Little
Women, Alcott was also an accomplished poet.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872 in Dayton,
Ohio. Although he only lived to be thirty-three, Dunbar
achieved international acclaim as a poet, short story writer,
novelist, dramatist, and lyricist.
Essayist, philosopher, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was
born in Boston on May 25, 1803.
Poet and writer Langston Hughes, famous for his elucidations
of black American life in his poems, stories, autobiographies,
and histories, was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February
Poet, diplomat, songwriter, and anthologist of black culture
James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871 in Jacksonville,
Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born on February 27,
1807, in Portland, Maine. During his lifetime, Longfellow's
poetry enjoyed extraordinary popularity at home and abroad.
Archibald MacLeish, poet, dramatist, and ninth Librarian
of Congress, was born on May 7, 1892, in Glencoe, Illinois.
Edgar Allan Poe, born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Poet, philosopher, and naturalist Henry David Thoreau
was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts.
Writer, critic, and teacher Robert Penn Warren died on
September 15, 1989. During his long and distinguished literary
carer, Warren was twice associated with the Library of
Congress. In 1944-45, he served the Library as Consultant
in Poetry and in 1986 Warren was named the first Poet Laureate
of the United States.
Walt Whitman, American poet, journalist, and essayist,
was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, New York. His
verse collection Leaves of Grass is a landmark in the history
of American literature.
Keats, “To Autumn” (second entry)
On September 19, 1819, English poet John Keats, inspired
by the beauty of the changing season, wrote "To
Autumn," a three-stanza ode to the splendor, bounty,
and melancholy of fall.
Moore, “A Visit From St. Nicholas”
Clement Moore is thought to have composed "The
Night Before Christmas" on
December 24, 1822, while traveling home from Greenwich
where he had bought a turkey for his family's Christmas
Whitman, “O Captain! My Captain!”
On February 9, 1888, Walt Whitman penned a note to the
publishers of The Riverside Literature Series No. 32
calling attention to mistakes in their recently printed
of his poem, "O Captain! My Captain!" "Somehow
you have got a couple of bad perversions in 'O Captain,'" he
wrote, "I send you a corrected sheet."
of Playwrights’ Theater
The experimental Playwrights' Theater opened its first
New York season on November 3, 1916, at 139 MacDougal Street
in Greenwich Village. Harry Kemp spent a year with the
the theater's Provincetown Players in 1916 and opened
his own Poetry
Theater in Greenwich
Village in 1921. He shared his musings and his poetry with
writer May Swenson of the Federal Writers' Project in the
Life Histories, 1936-1940 interview, "Tramp
Frost at Kennedy’s
Inauguration (second entry)
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy distinguished his
inaugural ceremony with a poetry reading by fellow New
Englander Robert Frost.
Wheatley becomes first African-American poet to have a
of poetry published
On September 1, 1773, Phillis Wheatley's Poems
on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was
published in London England. Wheatley's collection
was the first volume of poetry by
an African-American poet to be published. Often called
the "Black Prodigy," she was approximately
twenty-one at the time.
and the Folger (second entry)
William Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, in
the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England.