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Friday, June 3, 2016

A Poem by Herbert Woodward Martin in Remembrance of Eve Shelnutt

On a personal note, I was gratified today to receive an email from Herbert Wooward Martin which contained this poem, dedicated to my mother, the late Eve Shelnutt:

On The Flyleaf of Above The River

                                for: Eve Shelnutt

I return to you like an undeliverable letter.

You risked all; friendships wrapped securely

around wood, or bark; a fine liquor,

a  preservative, a cloth, stitched, pinned

and hemmed with bright red ribbon

belonging to eternity.

We dance clumsily,

as if we were training our pets to attempt

similar resistant and motions, to adapt to

a smooth seductive tango, but they will not

co-operate and so we make do with the

passion that’s left in us: breath of words.

They are the safety-valve to understanding;

they are the constant of place they are our

concrete spirits, our utterances, and remains so

because we have learned to dance and sing with

them most often and because our repository is

filled and our pets know and understand what

we tell them.

Herbert Woodward Martin

Professor Emeritus
University of Dayton

Herbert Woodward Martin began his studies at the University of Toledo. He continued them at SUNY at Buffalo, then at Middlebury College, and finished at Carnegie Mellon University. He came to UD in the fall of 1970, and has spent the bulk of his career here. The exceptions occurred in 1973, when he served as a distinguished visiting professor at Central Michigan University, and in 1990, when he was a Fulbright Scholar in Hungary.

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