Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caption Contest

I suppose I'm opening myself up to a certain risk of ridicule, but who am I to be stopped by such a thing? Winner gets a kiss and a piggy-back ride from us All-Americans.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Some Good Thanksgiving Poems

Whether you are thankful today because things are good, or because, as Garrison Keillor put it, things could be worse, here are a few good poems to help voice the sentiment.

i thank You God for most this amazing
by e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough; 5
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 10
Praise him.

The Wild Rose
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

-by Wendell Berry, for his wife

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Farewell to the White Rabbit

Isn't it odd how we baffled bereaved immediately begin casting about in memory to establish each our own connection with the dead, as if to justify our grief? As if the loss of one such as Dr. Greer was not its own justification.

I never had a class with Tom, but I still have notes to a delightful Pew lecture on Whitman he presented one afternoon at the home of the Doctors Sonheim. I saw tears in his eyes as he presided over the lovely wedding of my friends Tiffany and Randy, and again at Tiffany's funeral just one year later.

He was my confidante as I planned first one and then another trip to China. Even before he knew me well at all, he remembered from some brief early chat my enthusiasm for all things Chinese, and thoughtfully tapped me to assist in meeting and chauffeuring visiting faculty members from Beijing University. He even invited me along to a send-off breakfast with them at Old Walt's, where, in his eagerness to express his appreciation for the parting gift of some floral tea, he accidentally schlooped a chrysanthemum petal up his nostril.

It does not come naturally to a young student to realize the demands on a professor's time and attention, nor did Tom ever attempt to make the point himself on those couple of occasions when I managed to find him in, and we sat in his dark cool office, hung with what seemed several lifetimes of Sino-souvenirs and gifts, and traded stories of travel in our favorite land across the sea. He seemed to take an almost boyish delight in pleasures and adventures not his own; doubtless one of the very qualities that made him a great reader and teacher of literature. It was Tom who encouraged me not to worry so much about plumping my resume immediately after college, to go to beautiful Yantai for a year and work at the university there on the coast of the Yellow Sea.

I thanked him then for the advice, and I have yet to regret having followed it. But I regret deeply the hole in our little OBU family, and the loss too of one who was an enthusiastic emissary to countless international students and professors, both at home and abroad. A professor at Yantai University who had been the beneficiary of Tom's hospitality during a visit to Arkansas put it very nicely. "Please tell Dr. Greer 'Nin hao' from me. Tell him he is always welcome in China, and in my home. He is a very lovely man."


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Accept

So I have this hospital chaplain friend. He's got a blog and he's thrown down the gauntlett that was thrown down by a nurse friend of his.
She describes it as a 'challenge.'
I question that description.

Nonetheless, in the interests of keeping the blogosphere well cluttered (and because I like to do everything my friend suggests I do) . . .
The rules, as I received them, are as follows:

1) Grab the nearest book. 2) Open the book to page 123.
3) Find the fifth sentence. 4) Post the text of the next four sentences on your blog, along with these instructions. 5) Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest!"

What luck (for my typing fingers anyway) that I've finished with Absalom, Absalom for the semester! Not that we are in any way better served by the following passage from Heidegger's collected essays, Poetry, Language, Thought:

"Nor does he mean a rule. He is thinking of what 'touches us.' Who are we? We are those who will, who set up the world as object by way of intentional self-assertion."

Well, that was fun. A real 'hootenanny,' as I intend to put it when I am of the various ages at which my grandparents never, to my knowledge, do.
You should say 'hootenanny' too, and by all means relieve your toes of the guantlett which I now set upon them.