Monday, November 26, 2012


It was with heavy heart that I heard that one of my major graduate school professors, James E. Anderson, passed away.  His obituary is here.

Most of my studies with Prof. Anderson were in older Germanic poetry, the heavily alliterative and allusive verse typified by Beowulf.  While I cannot boast the best of bard-craft, some little skill I seek to deploy in a small and unworthy tribute to a man whose approach to scholarship has informed my own:
Mighty the mind-work he made pupils do,
Many the marks he made on their papers,
And great was the groaning when grades were returned,
For of the fast A, a foe he was ever,
But well could they boast who bore well the yoke
Of learning and lore he would lay upon them
To strengthen as scholars the studious folk.
He pushed and he pressed, that professor full,
Student knowledge-seekers.  Some of them fell.
Others endured and approval found.
Hoarse-voiced and hoar-headed, he looked with joy
On verse-lines of value and vaunted old prose
Made new and modern in mouth and by hand,
Brought again back from book into thought,
Turned over, tested, tried, and found good.
From the Franks Casket to Fafnir he ranged,
From Maldon to Milton, the mighty old-scholar,
Even to Exeter.  The ever-jesting man
Spoke of the centuries with sure-knowing ease,
And we who would know his wisdom could have it
Freely for asking, and full of long joy.
Gone is the good man, gathered away
From pen and from paper and pupils diverse.
Fate ever goes as it must.

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