Today, May 7th was a proud day for the Witherington clan. Our only son David graduated from the University of Kentucky today with a degree in English Literature (like his Dad) and a concentration in Japanese (totally unlike his Dad).
We were blessed to have Seamas Heaney, poet laureate of Ireland and Professor at Harvard U. as our commencement speaker, and he spoke of how these were tough times for poets. He wasn't just talking about how hard it is for poets to find publishers. That alone is nearly impossible. I once asked one of my publishers if they would take a volume of my poems. Their reply was "we don't do original poetry at Harper." I wrote back--- "suppose I sent you a volume of totally unoriginal and derivative poetry-- would you take it then?" Yes these are hard days for poets.
Heaney however was talking about the troubling effect our culture has on the art. He defined poetry as "the struggle to find and express balance between one's inner temperament and the temper of the times". This is all the more difficult when the culture is more prone to and more supportive of violence than of sensitive artistic expression. It is difficult when the times are out of joint, and the culture becomes coarser and less forgiving.
My son is also a poet. I am proud of him, as he has worked hard to graduate with honors. He is a quieter more thoughtful and shy person than I am, and in some ways this aids his poetry. When he says something, he says it in measured and carefully considered words. He also has a good dry wit, and lots of skill on the computer. He has saved me many times when there were computer problems. Only time will tell what is next for him. For now we are delighted that the whole family could be part of his big day. This is our last child to graduate from college, so it is a milestone for us as well.
"Children are a blessing from God; happy is the man who has a quiver full."
Poetry is the expression of the sound of the soul either in harmony with or in dischord with its surroundings. Today I am simply happy that there is resonance between my son-- David Benjamin, and myself. Here's to you Dave--- "vaya con Dios".