Mel Pollner Eulogies
Mel Pollner

November 10, 2007
Marshall Shumsky


In the dark, he found me,
Advice, without
Questions posed
Leading to new avenues
Then to self-honesty
Then to action, at last.

Never alone,
Time encompassing
An oddly strange couple
Destined never to part.

Pathways split,
Rarely to see
Still, together
Sacred trust
Manly love
Respect for differences
He taught me how to laugh at myself.

Ideas endeared even when misunderstood,
What goal?
Each means ephemeral to the life lived.

Joy in merriment,
Together we be
Never an ending.

My young friends, Leslie and Adrian,
Your father spoke only from knowledge.
Borrowed not a word surreptitiously.
Other colleagues awoke on a sunlit morning
to find an immaculate conception, ignorant that in
the night just passed, Mel had sung his sweet song into
the ear.

Applause for its own sake was beneath his dignity,
He was a scholar: to edify, teach, nurture ideas in his
students, so each knew the questions to ask, how to
evaluate, and to maintain a critical eye without a jaundiced

He was a mote of rationality; someone to turn to when one's brain
was without gas.
He respected yesterday's scholarship; never forget his moorings.
He, fiercely loyal to his ideas.

Never misled by clever tongue twisters,
Stood on the sideline agape as pied pipers led blindfolded adherents
through dark alleys, with the blinded able to follow only the piper's echo.
Then, when the leader yelled "daylight," the piper knew it was for him
alone! and for no one else. Such treachery, Mel despised.

Mel's shadow cast dusk over his peers, and he stood as the Eiffel tower next to his
teachers, who repeated old ground like worn down gramophones. In his forties, he saw
each pothole in his elder's etchings, but believed the road toward grandness so
precarious, that he stood in silence.

Your father remains beloved by his many friends, colleagues, and students
that he so generously embraced. He was the consummate gentleman, putting aside
egotism to be a dim light. Respected throughout this country and Europe; each
person startled by Mel's brilliance and humbleness. He spoke and wrote plain fully,
an oxymoron in the fraternal order of the academy.

More than any other attribute, Mel had ceaseless integrity: to his wife, children,
friends, peers, colleagues, extended family, and strangers.

Tonight, my dearest Leslie and Adrian, before you go to sleep,
take the gift of integrity that your father so lovingly gave you, and press it to
your heart, not once, but twice; inhale the sweet fragrance, and doing so, your
children and their children shall know your father.

You, Judy, my love, ministering to Mel in devotion, kindness, generosity,
loyalty, and with the deepest love.
And at the same time helping your elderly parents manage their ailments.
And at the same time, trying to protect the hearts of your children.
And a the same time, putting to the side your own heartaches and tears.
You have been the beacon, lighting up the pathway, so that we who so adored Mel
could find our way through the haze. Your glorious valor shall remain before my eyes
in the remaining years of my journey through this life.

Infectious cheer
Whistling wit
Humor's delight
Eye to eye
Pals alike
The dream comes as a whisper.

Golden hearts not alone
Frigid fingers melded into smiling eyes
Blossoming petals uplifted by tender care
The fire above, each child shielded paternally
Progeny. My progeny!
The dream comes in a whisper.

The kiss to the maiden's lips
Hand in hand, stride by stride
Playful laughter
Gates open wide
Touch slipping quietly through skin, through tissue, muscle, bone,
then climbing the ladder, suddenly shining above the cluttered organs,
soaring into the naked heart, nestled! nestled forever.
The dream comes in a whisper.

In dedication to my friend, Mel Pollner
Marshall Shumsky, summer, 2007