Unpublished Preface to a ph.d. Thesis

To the one hundred and two scholars before me
Who wrote the books I read about Ephraim Tate,
Eighteenth century, unknown then, and now;
To mother; to father; to my high-school principal,
Who first told me that teaching is the good life;
To Georgia Drew; to my uncle, who lent me money;
To the immeasurable necessary deep fiery sources
Of English poetry from the dark beginnings onward;
To Shakespeare’s childhood, and to Blake’s tall angels,
And the sun-yellow blaze Van Gogh painted for me;
To people I drank coffee with at midnight talking
In a booth in a shop on University Avenue;
To the British Museum, the Huntington Library, Yale,
And Harvard; to Joe; to the New York Philharmonic;
To Dr. John June, Miss April August, and F. T. Zero,
Who removed dangling participles, individual style,
False parallelisms, comma faults, and I suppose helped;
To the Saturday Evening Post, Life, and the New Yorker,
Which kept me from being left alone with Ephraim Tate;
To all the students who attend my classes now,
Not guessing that I am afraid, or that I love them,
Or how much I’d like to tell them of Blake’s angels;
And to the hope of forgetting Ephraim Tate forever
And learning to teach, I dedicate this book.
JOHN HOLMES