Remembered here by her sister-in-law Susan Dickinson, the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson gained recognition only after her death.
ADamascus blade gleaming and glancing in the sun was her wit. Her swift poetic rapture was like the long glistening note of a bird one hears in the June woods at high noon, but can never see. Like a magician she caught the shadowy apparitions of her brain and tossed them in startling picturesqueness to her friends, who, charmed with their simplicity and homeliness as well as profundity, fretted that she had so easily made palpable the tantalizing fancies forever eluding their bungling, fettered grasp. So intimate and passionate was her love of Nature, she seemed herself a part of the high March sky, the summer day and bird-call. Keen and eclectic in her literary tastes, she sifted libraries from Shakespeare to Browning; quick as the electric spark in her intuitions and analyses, she seized the kernel instantly, almost impatient of the fewest words by which she must make her revelation. To her, life was rich and all aglow with God and immortality. With no creed, no formulated faith, hardly knowing the names of dogmas, she walked this life with the gentleness and reverence of old saints, with the firm step of martyrs who sing while they suffer.
After Virginia Woolf drowned herself, her friend and fellow writer Christopher Isherwood recalled her enigmatic presence.
One remembers, first of all, those wonderfully forlorn eyes; the slim, erect high-shouldered figure, strangely tense, as if always on the alert for some distant sound; the hair folded back from the eggshell fragility of the temples; the small, beautifully cut face, like a Tennysonian cameo -- Mariana, or the Lady of Shalott. Yes, that is the impression one would like to convey -- an unhappy, high-born lady in a ballad, a fairy-story princess under a spell, slightly remote from the rest of us, a profile seen against the dying light, hands dropped helplessly in her lap, a shocking, momentary glimpse of intense grief.
What rubbish! We are at the tea table. Virginia is sparkling with gaiety, delicate malice, and gossip -- the gossip that is the style of her books and that made her the best hostess in London; listening to her, we missed appointments, forgot love affairs, stayed on and on into the small hours, when we had to be hinted gently but firmly, out of the house. . . .
Was she the bewitched princess, or the wicked little girl at the tea party -- or both, or neither? I can't tell. In any case she was, as the Spaniards say, "very rare," and this world was no place for her.
As an assistant to Albert Einstein, Ernst Straus was well acquainted with the physicist's personal foibles.
Often on our way to work, someone would waylay him, tell him how much he had looked forward to meeting the great Einstein. Einstein would pose with the waylayer's wife, children, or grandchildren as desired and exchange a few good-natured words. Then he would go on, shaking his head, saying, "Well, the old elephant has gone through his tricks again."
He was very fond of small children and animals. With children he would go through various tricks, making funny noises with his hands and wiggling his ears. In fact, his ability to wiggle his ears was the only accomplishment of which he would boast shamelessly and which he was quite eager to show off. . . .
I might mention here a good anecdote he told about himself. We were looking for a paper clip for a manuscript and finally found one too badly bent to be usable, so we looked for a tool to straighten it. In doing so we found a drawer full of perfectly good paper clips, and Einstein was just about to bend one out of shape when I asked him what he was doing. "If you hadn't been here, I should certainly have ruined this clip in order to straighten the bent one. This always happens to me when I get stuck on a problem."
Two years after John F. Kennedy's inauguration, at which Robert Frost read an original poem, the president delivered a eulogy.
Because he knew the midnight as well as the high noon, because he understood the ordeal as well as the triumph of the human spirit, he gave his age strength with which to overcome despair. At bottom, he held a deep faith in the spirit of man. And it's hardly an accident that Robert Frost coupled poetry and power. For he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself.
When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. . . .
In free society, art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the sphere of polemics and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. It may be different elsewhere. But in democratic society, the highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist, is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may. In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves the nation. And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man -- "the fate of having nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope."
Jazz journalist Stanley Dance tried to sum up a man who refused to be categorized: Duke Ellington.
As a musician, he hated categories. He didn't want to be restricted, and although he mistrusted the word jazz, his definition of it was "freedom of expression." If he wished to write an opera, or music for a ballet, or for the symphony, or for a Broadway musical, or for a movie, he didn't want to feel confined to the idiom in which he was the unchallenged, acknowledged master.
As with musical categories, so with people categories. Categories of class, race, color, creed, and money were obnoxious to him. He made his subtle, telling contributions to the civil rights struggle in musical statements. . . .
His scope constantly widened, and right up to the end he remained a creative force, his imagination stimulated by experience. There was much more he had to write, and would undoubtedly have written, but a miraculous aspect of his work is not merely the quality, but the quantity of it. Music was indeed his mistress. He worked hard, did not spare himself, and virtually died in harness.
Beatle George Harrison knew that show business was not to be confused with real life, Monty Python star Eric Idle recalled.
When they told me they were going to induct my friend George Harrison into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame posthumously, my first thought was: I bet he won't show up. Because, unlike some others one might mention -- but won't -- he really wasn't into honors. He was one of those people who believe that life is somehow more important than show business. Which I know is heresy here in Hollywood, and I'm sorry to bring it up here in the very Bowel of Hollywood, but I can hear his voice saying, "Oh, very nice, very useful, a posthumous award -- where am I supposed to put it?" What's next then? A posthumous Grammy? An ex-Knighthood? An After-Lifetime Achievement Award? He's going to need a whole new shelf up there. . . .
George was in fact a moral philosopher. His life was all about a search for truth, and preparing himself for death. Which is a bit weird for someone in rock and roll. They're not supposed to be that smart. They're supposed to be out there looking for Sharon. Not the meaning of life. Michael Palin said George's passing was really sad, but it does make the afterlife seem much more attractive.