My heart goes out to our seniors this year. Everyone's facing an uncertain future, but you seniors are also being denied a fitting conclusion to an important chapter in your life. As English majors you know that truly satisfying endings don't just happen: they have to be made. (And you know how much Chaucer struggles to make them!) I wish you could have made the kind of ending you'd been looking forward to, here on campus with us and with all your friends. But I hope that, whatever your circumstances, you will find a new and joyful way to mark the conclusion of your college years. And I hope that we can celebrate with you belatedly!
From Dr. Michael Mack:
Do as Hamlet does before his final act: remind yourself that "the readiness is all" and say, "Let be."
From Dr. Ernest Suarez:
It was my great privilege to spend two semesters reading and discussing the works of William Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren with this wonderful group of young scholars!
From Dr. Daniel Gibbons:
Fare forward, travelers, but be sure someday soon to return and tell us of your journeys. We may all be distant now and in the days to come, but you will remain always in our hearts and prayers.
Best wishes in all things!
When we woke wet from dew
in the shade on the edge of the wood,
birdsong more liquid than new
pearls cool on the clover,
was the sunlight a thorn in your eye?
Or did it burn hotter than shame
of hunters' laughing eyes,
your father's virulent rage,
memory of my breath
live and too close?
Was the betrayal worse than death,
dreams of the serpent's tongue,
caved in a sterile night
four days too long
just gone -- or was it months?
Was it poison or the cure
that we washed from our eyes with the dew?
Was there something we should have learned,
before the river of wind,
Lethe's Zephyr in the dome,
laughed with the merciful lord
all the long walk home
while the sun set fire to his crown?
From Dr. Taryn Okuma:
Seniors, thinking about you at this time reminds me of what the Walrus says to Haroun: "Happy endings must come at the end of something....If they happen in the middle of a story, or an adventure, or the like, all they do is cheer things up for awhile.”
Congratulations! You have accomplished so much and I am incredibly grateful for having had the chance to read and discuss literature with you. Your graduation certainly cheers things up in a time when we need cheering.
I cannot wait to see what you do with the rest of your story.
We miss you and wish you all the best. You'll always be welcome in the Annex.