[Daily article] February 3: A Song for Simeon

“A Song for Simeon” is a 37-line poem written in 1928 by American-
British poet T. S. Eliot (1888–1965). It is one of five poems that he
contributed to the Ariel poems series of 38 illustrated pamphlets with
holiday themes by several authors published by Faber and Gwyer and sent
to the firm’s clients and business acquaintances as Christmas greetings.
Eliot had converted to Anglo-Catholicism in 1927 and his poetry,
starting with the Ariel Poems (1927–31) and Ash Wednesday (1930), took
on a decidedly religious character. The poem retells the story of Simeon
from the Gospel of Luke. Simeon was a devout Jew told by the Holy Ghost
that he would not die until he saw the Saviour of Israel. When he
encounters Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus entering the Temple of
Jerusalem, he sees in the infant the Messiah promised by the Lord and
asks God to permit him to “depart in peace.” Eliot’s poem employs
references to the Nunc dimittis, a Christian liturgical prayer for
Compline, and literary allusions to earlier writers Lancelot Andrewes,
Dante Alighieri and St. John of the Cross. Several critics have debated
whether Eliot’s depiction of Simeon is evidence of Eliot’s anti-
Semitism.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

1852:

The Argentine Confederation were defeated in the Platine War by
an alliance consisting of the Empire of Brazil, Uruguay and the
Argentine provinces of Entre Ríos and Corrientes.

1870:

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was
ratified, granting voting rights to citizens regardless of “race, color,
or previous condition of servitude”.

1959:

American rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens,
and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed when their plane
crashed shortly after taking off from Mason City Municipal Airport in
Iowa (wreckage pictured).

1967:

Ronald Ryan became the last person to be legally executed in
Australia, sparking public protests across the country.

2010:

A cast of L’Homme qui marche I by Swiss sculptor Alberto
Giacometti sold for £65 million (US$103.7 million), setting the record
for most expensive sculpture sold at a public auction.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

proppant:
Sand or similar particulate material suspended in water or other fluid
and used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to keep fissures open.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  If a captive mind is unaware of being in prison, it is living in
error. If it has recognized the fact, even for the tenth of a second,
and then quickly forgotten it in order to avoid suffering, it is living
in falsehood. Men of the most brilliant intelligence can be born, live
and die in error and falsehood. In them, intelligence is neither a good,
nor even an asset. The difference between more or less intelligent men
is like the difference between criminals condemned to life imprisonment
in smaller or larger cells. The intelligent man who is proud of his
intelligence is like a condemned man who is proud of his large cell.
 
–Simone Weil

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