David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   

July 4, 2014

One of my favorite people has passed away.  Almost as much as my immediate family and closest and dearest friends, Dr. Sophia Blaydes meant the world to me.  She was the professional role model I was looking for when I was in my early 20's and trying to decide what to do with my life.  I had her for a Restoration (17th century) Literature class at West Virginia University and her class crystallized for me the joys of great literature, wit, repartee, and intellectual thought.  I had tasted the sweetness of each of these things separately in other classes, but her class brought it all together for me.

I have said some of this before, many years ago for an essay for the West Virginia University Eberly College magazine, but I will say them again here:  nothing delighted me more than to make Sophie laugh; nothing meant more to me than to hear Sophie's praise for my work.  And this was Restoration Literature, a subject I was convinced I would dread.  She was an amazing teacher and a vivacious woman. And I can hold her personally responsible for the rest of my life, as I never doubted I would go anywhere but Indiana University, her alma mater, to get my Ph.D., and in doing so, of course, met my wife and the arc of the rest of my life.

In Sophie's memory, I offer the following villanelle (always my favorite form of poetry):


Rest Oration

Rest in peace, my lovely, delightful friend.

Although all your loved ones struggle to cope,

I refuse to consider this the end.


I speak for youthful scholars you did send

Into the world armed with love of trope.

Rest in peace, my lovely, delightful friend.


Know that literary careers did wend

From origins in Dryden, Swift and Pope.

I refuse to consider this the end.


Remarkably kind when this student penned

"Guffaw" instead of "gaffe"(Oh, what a dope!),

Rest in peace, my lovely, delightful friend.


I know in time all of our hearts will mend

Faces looking to smile instead of mope.

I refuse to consider this the end.


'Til eternity is our time to spend

And your laughter still symbolizes hope,

Rest in peace, my lovely, delightful friend.

I refuse to consider this the end.


You are missed, Sophie. Love, David