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Emeritus by Park J. White

I’m Emeritus; I love it.
There’s no title that’s above it.
Since I have no claim to Highness,
Please address me as Your Spryness

I laughed last week when I read “Emeritus.”  Park J. White M.D. (1891-1987) recited “Emeritus” in a speech to the Urban League in 1962. Dr. White was a well-loved pediatrician, emeritus professor of pediatrics, poet, and self-described agitator. The speech begins with “Thanks in old age,” a poem by Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass.  “Emeritus” is his witty commentary on himself as much as “Thanks in old age.” Although he leads with Walt Whitman’s poem, he doesn’t  entirely agree with him.

Walt Whitman: THANKS IN OLD AGE.
Thanks in old age—thanks ere I go,
For health, the midday sun, the impalpable air—for life, mere
life,
For precious ever-lingering memories,
(Whitman 1891)]

THANKS! Yes.  Profound.
Old Age?  Forget it.

I’m Emeritus; I love it.
There’s no title that’s above it.
Since I have no claim to Highness,
Please address me as Your Spryness

Memories? Maria W. & I look back on our 40 years of agitating with all gratitude for companions who have done more for us that (sic: than) we ever could for them.

GEN. 2: 24,25. God brought
the man (from N.Y.) unto the woman
and they became one… and they
were both agitators … and were
not ashamed. (White 1962)

Bibliography
1. White, Park J. "Emeritus, Urban League, St. Louis, Missouri, February 19 , 1962." Box 11, Folder 56, Park J. White Papers, Bernard Becker Medical Library.
2. Whitman, Walt. "Thanks in old age." The Walt Whitman Archive: Published Works, U.S. editions of Leaves of Grass,1891-1892, page 398. 1891. http://www.whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1891/poems/347 (accessed October 30, 2015).

* Please note: Becker Briefs pages may contain links, email addresses or information about resources which are no longer current.