Meet Theophilus

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.

Huckleberry Finn

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

to Milton

 

et al, his unpretentious mission

lies in the deep

unplumbed moment      of the drowning brave

the seer in a wonderland of unseen visions

twilight sleep

dreams of Hesiod in the grave.

Southern Humanities Review, Spring 1974

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