Robert Farnsworth's poem for John A. Tagliabue
At the Sept. 11, 2006, faculty meeting, English faculty member Rob Farnsworth, who spent the summer as the poet-in-residence at The Frost Place, a museum and arts center housed in poet Robert Frost’s former homestead in Franconia, N.H., offered this poem as part of the faculty’s Memorial Minute for the late John Tagliabue. Farnsworth also read a poem of Tagliabue’s, called “Sliding into the Future.”
In Memoriam John Tagliabue, On the Gift of His Scarf The Frost Place, Franconia N.H August 2006
Amulet. Talisman. Banner of belief.
It would seem to have arrived so far before
Its season, this long, harlequin neckerchief
You’d wear crossing campus in the iron cold,
Your dancer’s step brisk behind January
Drifts — lively, discerning, meditative, bold
In self-possession. You were yourself possessed —
Wholly given to wild dapples of worlds and words.
Now by grace of your Grace, this keepsake arrives
At the old master’s mountain house as summer’s
Fading, cooling. Your last brave word to the wise
In our long dialogue, flag I should believe,
Bright counterpoint to my ever skeptical
Heart, wistfully reposing here beside old leaves
That evening’s dark will purify to shadow,
But which now a throbbing hummingbird still searches.
Dear, diminished things. Five days ‘til departure,
Until I return to our campus, as you’d
Come back, inspired, from Florence or Djakarta,
And pick back up the weaving of listeners with lines.
Now in time for last cold nights on the famous
Porch, for watching the waning silver moon climb
Out of the granite crest of Lafayette, I have your scarf,
Memory of a master whom I knew, not one who just
Wrote poems, but a Poet, in and of this hard, ravishing
World, whose talisman I will try to wear with courage.