One year ago, Mischa Willett, poetry professor and Ascent mentor in the English and Cultural Studies Department, composed the following poem when SPU’s graduation-season ceremony known as Ivy Cutting needed to be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, the poem still applies this season, and so we include it here, once again.
A Valediction, in Lieu of Ivy
Seattle Pacific University
Whereas once we may have circled you
And sang, torn the hanging vine,
A gift of green spade, renew-
Able radix for transplant, care, a line
To start the poem your lives
Will write whether you will or no,
Whether shaped just so or arrived
A gift entire–inspiration!–but growing,
We have to give the punctuation a miss,
What would have been the full-stop, carriage return,
Chapter next is now, well, this,
A reminder of the real, of ritual, burned
Into the whole world’s narrative by negative
Example. How much we often don’t see!
How much more we might’ve read, have said, relative
To what we did! But no last line of poetry
Actually ends. They ring and echo,
Dwell for ages (and ages hence) in the eternity
Of the mind, a community of caretakers below
The noise, before the reward–the purity
Of transference, of appreciation, of ability sheer
And wild–is yours, you sight-seers, way finders,
Meaning makers greening the otherwise clear
Desert and waste of the world! Artists: remind
Us, who are apt to forget, how much we need
your “inessential” work; how essential to engage
The past, the other, the now; to read, and reading,
See, and seeing, bless the all that’s on and off the page.