Emeritus Faculty Association news October 2012
Friday October 5th, 10.30am Javits Room, 2nd floor library. Roy T. Steigbigel, Distinguished Service Professor, Medicine, Pathology Pharmacology and Microbiology, will speak on HIV/AIDS, An abbreviated review of a modern pandemic.
Bio: Steigbigel received his MD from U. Rochester. After completion of an infectious diseases fellowship at Stanford University he was on the faculty at the University of Rochester for ten years before coming to USB. Here he founded the division of infectious diseases, re-organized the hospital microbiology lab, and established the new hospital AIDS Center. His research is primarily related to host response and HIV/AIDS. He has made important contributions to humoral and cell mediated control of bacterial and viral infections including influenza, as well as anti-microbial therapy, with more than 120 publications in leading journals.
First our UUP retiree representative, Judy Wishnia, reported on statewide SUNY issues.
The restructuring of Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn has begun with the first layoffs and transfers to Long Island College Hospital. This is now run by the SUNY Foundation as a private entity so in the process the doctors and nurses are no longer state unionized and lose their state pensions. Judy recalled the Berger Commission of 2006 which recommended a comprehensive analysis of the feasibility of privatizing the SUNY hospitals and schools of medicine at Brooklyn, Stony Brook, and Syracuse. (Ed. note: the separation of SBU and its hospital was also an objective of our State Sen. LaValle who since January 2011 is once again the chair of the NY State Senate Higher Education Committee).
On a brighter note we are all to be issued with a SUNYCARD which will enable all SUNY retirees to use facilities on any campus. However nobody seems to know when the long awaited card will actually be issued and exactly what facilities it will cover (except we do know that it will not include parking).
Dave Smith advised that departments are being migrated over to Google Apps one at a time from now until February. In the process the notes.cc and sunysb email addresses will be going away. He has been promised that before that happens members will be emailed about transferring to the new system. The firstname.lastname@example.org and intra-departmental email addresses will remain functional the same as now. You may want to clue in your correspondence circles ahead of time. You can find FAQ's on this at http://it.cc.stonybrook.edu/google/general_faq
Our speaker this month, Professor Peter Manning, started by tracing his work on the social contexts of literature, starting with Byron, and now with his continuing interest in Wordsworth. In fact this talk proved particularly fascinating, not only for the pleasures of the Wordsworth verse, but also for the insights on aging, a topic with which we claim some familiarity.
Compared to the other 19C romantics who established quite a tradition of "live fast, die young" (Keats-26, Byron-36, Shelley-30, Coleridge-opium addict), Wordsworth ended up living a long and frugal life. (When Manning was elected the president of the Wordsworth society the nominator announced that they had decided to forgive the candidate his misspent Byronic youth). In fact Wordsworth also was regarded as having done his best work before the age of 40, but then repeatedly revised the early poems in a series of new editions. Possibly one motive was the renewal of copyright and publishing income, but, as can be seen in the first two poems appended here, as he aged he came to see them from a different perspective. Wordsworth here set out to explore how to understand old age in a period devoted to the young. It seems likely that the Matthew evoked was in fact Wordsworth's own grammar school teacher, a man in his 70's who had lost his daughter at the age of 9. In the first, Two April Mornings, by using unpolished rhymes selectively, Wordsworth portrays the speaker as a rather callow and unfeeling youngster. The poem slips quietly and unannounced from present to past tense, and to an eventual cry of pain as Matthew cannot even wish that a young woman he sees could replace his daughter, for fear that he might suffer such a loss a second time. Then in the final verse (as later revised) we might sense that the speaker had changed, because something similar happened to him (Wordsworth himself would lose children after the time the poem was created.).
The second poem, The Fountain, tests the proposition whether young and old can really be friends. Here the successive revisions of the streamlet line clearly show Wordsworth's increasing obsession with the inevitability of passing time:- Down to the vale this water steers - Down to the vale with eager speed - No guide it needs, no check it fears - No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears. It leads to the saddest and most terrifying line of all, "..by none am I beloved". And the youth's offer to replace his loss can never be accepted.
The third of our poems, the sonnet To an Octogenarian, was actually first composed in old age (at 76, 4 years before his death). It really is the poet addressing himself. It shows perhaps some of the anguish of what Harold Bloom sarcastically called "the longest and most painful dying of poetic genius that the world has ever seen". The final two lines thankfully give a little relief: "Still shall be left some corner of the heart Where Love for living Thing can find a place", a bow perhaps to Shakespeare's admonition "To love that well that thou must leave ere long".
For the interest and pleasure of those who could not make our meeting, we append the (later) versions of these poems here.
THE TWO APRIL MORNINGS We walked along, while bright and red Uprose the morning sun; And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said "The will of God be done!" A village schoolmaster was he, With hair of glittering grey; As blithe a man as you could see On a spring holiday. And on that morning, through the grass And by the steaming rills We travelled merrily, to pass A day among the hills. "Our work," said I, "was well begun; Then, from thy breast what thought, Beneath so beautiful a sun, So sad a sigh has brought?" A second time did Matthew stop; And fixing still his eye Upon the eastern mountain-top, To me he made reply: "Yon cloud with that long purple cleft Brings fresh into my mind A day like this, which I have left Full thirty years behind. "And just above yon slope of corn Such colours, and no other, Were in the sky, that April morn, Of this the very brother. "With rod and line I sued the sport Which that sweet season gave, And, to the churchyard come, stopped short Beside my daughter's grave. "Nine summers had she scarcely seen, The pride of all the vale; And then she sang:Ńshe would have been A very nightingale. "Six feet in earth my Emma lay; And yet I loved her moreŃ For so it seemed, than till that day I e'er had loved before. "And turning from her grave, I met Beside the churchyard yew A blooming girl, whose hair was wet With points of morning dew. "A basket on her head she bare; Her brow was smooth and white: To see a child so very fair, It was a pure delight! "No fountain from its rocky cave E'er tripped with foot so free; She seemed as happy as a wave That dances on the sea. "There came from me a sigh of pain Which I could ill confine; I looked at her, and looked again: And did not wish her mine!" Matthew is in his grave, yet now Methinks I see him stand As at that moment, with a bough Of wilding in his hand. THE FOUNTAIN WE talk'd with open heart, and tongue Affectionate and true, A pair of friends, though I was young, And Matthew seventy-two. We lay beneath a spreading oak, Beside a mossy seat; And from the turf a fountain broke And gurgled at our feet. "Now, Matthew," said I, "let us match This water's pleasant tune With some old border-song, or catch That suits a summer's noon; "Or of the church-clock and the chimes Sing here beneath the shade That half-mad thing of witty rhymes Which you last April made!" In silence Matthew lay, and eyed The spring beneath the tree; And thus the dear old man replied, The gray-hair'd man of glee: "No check, no stay this streamlet fears, How merrily it goes! 'Twill murmur on a thousand years, And flow as now it flows. "And here, on this delightful day, I cannot choose but think How oft, a vigorous man, I lay Beside this fountain's brink. "My eyes are dim with childish tears, My heart is idly stirr'd, For the same sound is in my ears Which in those days I heard. "Thus fares it still in our decay: And yet the wiser mind Mourns less for what age takes away, Than what it leaves behind. "The blackbird amid leafy trees, The lark above the hill, Let loose their carols when they please, Are quiet when they will. "With Nature never do they wage A foolish strife; they see A happy youth, and their old age Is beautiful and free. "But we are press'd by heavy laws; And often, glad no more, We wear a face of joy, because We have been glad of yore. "If there be one who need bemoan His kindred laid in earth, The household hearts that were his own; It is the man of mirth. "My days, my friend, are almost gone, My life has been approved, And many love me; but by none Am I enough beloved." "Now both himself and me he wrongs, The man who thus complains! I live and sing my idle songs Upon these happy plains: "And, Matthew, for thy children dead, I'll be a son to thee!" At this he grasp'd my hand and said, "Alas, that cannot be!" We rose up from the fountain-side, And down the smooth descent Of the green sheep-track did we glide, And through the wood we went; And ere we came to Leonard's Rock He sang those witty rhymes About the crazy old church-clock, And the bewilder'd chimes. SONNET, TO AN OCTOGENARIAN Affections lose their object; Time brings forth No successors; and, lodged in memory, If love exist no longer, it must die, -- Wanting accustomed food, must pass from earth, Or never hope to reach a second birth. This sad belief, the happiest that is left To thousands, share not Thou; howe'er bereft, Scorned, or neglected, fear not such a dearth. Though poor and destitute of friends thou art, Perhaps the sole survivor of thy race, One to whom Heaven assigns that mournful part The utmost solitude of age to face, Still shall be left some corner of the heart Where Love for living Thing can find a place.