Winter 1988 • Vol. X No. 1 A Poem |

Herons and Water Lilies

I am walking behind three men, obviously undergraduates, who are talking in loud voices. Why do they have to read Plato? They speak of the opportunities in medicine and law . . . in computers. Who cares about Shakespeare? What's Hecuba to them?   The most brilliant undergraduate at Columbia when I was there was a man named Carlos Fonseca. Charlie came from South America . . . Paraguay or Uruguay . . . exotic in any case. When I came back from the war I found that most of my classmates had somehow managed to avoid it. Two were full-fledged psychiatrists, one making a name in physics. Charlie was taking a Ph.D. — also pinch-hitting for a professor, a famous man who was often absent. Charlie would take his classes. His lectures, I was told, were brilliant. But a rule said, seven years to finish the degree, or else . . . He tried, but as often happens with lecturers, he couldn't write. That year three instructors were fired. One threw himself from a roof, one went

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