Summa cum Gaudium et Tristitia

English department graduates

As is our Department custom, we gathered on Friday afternoon before the Honors Convocation for a quick picture on the steps of Alumni Hall. Steady rain and the rush to get things done kept many away, but a few of our 2014 graduating seniors gathered with many of the faculty one last time for a celebratory snapshot. After a night of rain the sun broke through on Saturday for a beautiful commencement ceremony. Amidst disheveled rows of seats, scattered programs and stray balloons graduates posed for family pictures and then scattered from the front lawn of Alumni Hall. We miss them already and await word of the many great things to come.

Thanks for the Sweet (450th) Remembrance

2014 Sirois Contingent

Once more, and now for the 26th time, we came together on campus to “learn what silent love hath writ,” to “summon up remembrance of things past,” to “count the clock that tells the time,” to contemplate “the forty winters” that have besieged many of our brows and declare with renewed optimism that indeed “love is a babe!”

Professor Gary BouchardOur great gratitude to all 154 readers of Shakespeare’s Sonnets on the occasion of his 450th Birthday!

We admired the elocution of the youngest and were heartened by the wisdom-filled renderings of the eldest. We appreciated all those readers in between, including the two nightingales who lifted their sonnets in song and left us breathless!

A collective groundling shout-out to the Abbey Players for their performances!

A special expression of lasting affection to the many alums who traveled from far and near to take part in our festival!  You help us remember in your homecoming why April never was and never shall be the cruelest month.

Until next year, brush up your Shakespeare, and resolve to live and love in fourteen line bites, even “whilst wasteful time debateth with decay.”

The Moment Spring Arrived

A spring scene on the Hilltop

March finally departed like a lion just the way it came in. It roared for 31 days and we do not miss it. For me spring began in one single ethereal moment. I was in New York City participating in the Renaissance Society of America. On Saturday afternoon my wife and shook our weary heads at the rain, put up umbrellas and escaped into Central Park, leaving the bustle and jack hammers of Sixth Avenue behind. It wasn’t long before we met a familiar old friend in bronze, he of the great forehead whose 450th birthday is in this new month. We forged on the paths, dodging puddles and steadily increasing sheets of rain, when just north of the Bethesda fountain we heard the ethereal sound of ethereal singing coming through the mist from . . . somewhere. And at that moment it might as well have been heaven.  Like many before us we descended the stairs and stumbled upon the source of the improbable and serene voices that were echoing from the underground pavilion north of the fountain: The Boyd Family Singers.

Not from heaven, but as close as one could get at that moment in wet shoes in Central Park.

In Conversatio we have been reading Joseph Pieper’s Only the Lover Sings.  “Music,” he says, “opens a path into the realm of silence . . . it imitates the impulses of the soul.” It is one thing to read such words, and quite another to experience them in a surprising moment among familiar strangers in a cold rain on a day of reluctant spring when even Shakespeare in bronze seemed chilled.

Had you been there and heard them, had you seen the Boyd family in their jackets calmlyadn soulfully singing their praises to God in a near empty park, you would have understood how very right Pieper is: “Cest l’amour qui chante,” love alone knows how to sing.”