Between my college graduation and my decision to attend seminary I took a few graduate courses in English Literature at Tennessee Tech. One of my favorite professors there was Dr. Homer Kemp. He exhibited a love for the books he assigned beyond mere scholarly interest. These works were living breathing presences, not dead words on a page and certainly not simply material for an article or critical study. His passion for the writing he taught was nowhere so apparent as when he read aloud. His rendition of Mark Twain’s “Young Stephen Dowling Bots” from Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was an experience that lives within me in memory to this day.
A Moment of Silence in Seminar
for Homer Kemp
As he stares into their cobweb faces
Theophilus hold an explication suspended by a thread.
A taught silence
imposes order upon its audience. Over his glasses
in unspoken dread
he is for a moment moved by the violence
of thought and thought’s herd,
remembers hearing somewhere of Hawthorne reading Spenser at 5
and the next year moving on to Milton.
Like a child hunkered in the dirt
he bends over his text. Alive
et al, his unpretentious mission
lies in the deep
unplumbed moment of the drowning brave
the seer in a wonderland of unseen visions
dreams of Hesiod in the grave.
Southern Humanities Review, Spring 1974