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  9. Provost Ian Bickford Commencement Speech

Provost Ian Bickford Commencement Speech

Welcome!

Fare forward, travellers! Not escaping from the past

Into indifferent lives, or into any future;

You are not the same people who left that station

Or who will arrive at any terminus,

While the narrowing rails slide together behind you;

And on the deck of the drumming liner

Watching the furrow that widens behind you,

You shall not think 'the past is finished'

Or 'the future is before us'.

At nightfall, in the rigging and the aerial,

Is a voice descanting (though not to the ear,

The murmuring shell of time, and not in any language)

Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;

You are not those who saw the harbour

Receding, or those who will disembark.

Here between the hither and the farther shore

While time is withdrawn, consider the future

And the past with an equal mind.

Not fare well,

But fare forward.

-T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

I share these lines from T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets in the spirit of marking a transition, not an ending or a parting, at this deliberately convened margin between past and future. Welcome, graduates, friends, and family, to the Bard College at Simon’s Rock Commencement of 2017. This Commencement also marks our 50th anniversary, and I am especially proud to share this milestone with a cohort of graduates whose unconventional brilliance so fully demonstrates the Simon’s Rock idea that younger scholars are really better scholars. As you fare forward, we on this platform will remain behind simply to safeguard and sustain what you and the graduates before you have done, made, said, thought, and written here, and to hold a space for what Simon’s Rockers in the next 50 years will do, make, say, think, and write.

Not on this platform today is a colleague, teacher, mentor, and friend we lost this year, Professor Nancy Yanoshak, to whom we dedicate these Commencement proceedings.