Paul Stanwood's Bread
Ann Arbor, 1956

X. J. Kennedy


This sonnet is inspired by memory of a time when I first  knew Paul when we were both graduate students and teaching fellows at the University of Michigan. It is quite  literally true.  One day Paul sounded off about the low  quality of the bread to be had in local shops; moreover, he then did something about it!  But it seems to me that  that small protest was characteristic of him, and in a  curious way, indicative of the work he was later to do as  a scholar and teacher.

"In all this town you can't find honest bread!"
Paul Stanwood thundered.  And, to cure that lack,
Bought flour and yeast, stoked oven, rolled up sleeves,
Briefly set down his pen to wield instead
A mixing spoon, his studies on the back
Burner.  Soon prodigious loaves, ingrained
With ripe wheat, fraught with sweetness, stood like sheaves
In golden rows.  Friends feasted and remained

His friends for life.  Such is Paul Stanwood's way
In scholarship, in teaching: an intense
Resistance to a culture's disarray,
Impatient with the spurious or shoddy,
Devoted to a quest for excellence
And nourishment for spirit, mind, and body.

2001-, R.G. Siemens and Lisa Hopkins (Editor, EMLS).
(RGS, WSH, 11 May 2001)