This was a sort of Thanksgiving gift to Rufus Bellamy whose preciousness, both as a human being and teacher was brought home to me by the death of another of my cherished friends, Lathan West. It struck me that the best eulogies might be those sent to our loved-ones before they die. How often we fail to thank those precious friends who've made our lives most rich. Ironically, Rufus died unexpectedly 4 months later.

For Rufus Bellamy: Gratitude Long Over-due
Spillings from a Full Heart
Here is a song for Rufus Bellamy,
My mentor and my friend
Who must be half-past seventy
'Round this Thanksgiving's end.

It's snowing. It's November;
His birthday's come and gone;
Why not at last and least regale
My teacher with a song.

We're only dealt a handful
Of jewels that bless the heart,
And as the years come stealing
They, gem by gem, depart:

Some, vanished in obscurity,
Some, lost before their time;
Why just last week the river claimed
The oldest friend of mine.

So Rufus, may I now proclaim
How much I cherish your good name,
And lift with pride for all to see
The charm of Rufus Bellamy

First, in your class, I viewed with awe
How much you knew, How far you saw--
Laser discernment true and deep
Of what was dear and what was cheap.

You saw! And you set our feet upon
Footholds that lead up to the sun.
You saved from most the infamy
Of praising trash for all to see.

You showed us Herbert, Yeats and Donne
Spencer and Jonson, Chaucer's song
Opening, chest on jeweled chest,
Treasures of words you saw as best.

Nor did you skip, like some young fools,
The scriptures that set forth the rules,*
Touchstones for writing pure and true,
And telling gold from residue.

But even above your teaching skill
I prized your fountain of good will,
That gracious hospitality
To even include a rube like me--

Somehow you saw in my rough parts
A farm kid who just might learn the arts
And even make a way with words
To scratch among the ink-stained birds.

So thanks sweet Rufus, diamond bright,
This English miner's chief delight,
The gems you gave me will not fade;
But brighten as the years invade,

I bear with me your priceless gift
Which Death can only hope to steal;
Words which are LIFE survive his rift
And will live on to spite him still.

So thank you Rufus, ruffled friend,
Whose goodness I'll not soon forget;
We've verses yet to comprehend
And will have at them yet.

Gene Pinkney

*Rufus thought the King James Bible to be the greatest document in British Literatue.

* John 6:63 . . . " The words I speak unto you are Spirit and they are Life." (Jesus)


Copyright 2006 © Gene Pinkney
No quotes may be used without attribution