In April 2019, I was invited to a Nassoon Reunion in Riverside, California. The men in this group graduated in the 1960s and ’70s. My father, Rich McGlynn ’60, couldn’t make it out to Southern California, but my husband and I were able to attend. It was a lovely occasion with beautiful music at Riverside’s Mission Inn, and I wrote a poem about it:
Song of Princeton, 50 Years Gone
Attenuated gents arrayed in school ties
Some totter, one in a wheel chair, many still in golden voice
gathered to croon melodies of yearning, tomfoolery,
desire and wonder, to bask in glory days.
Among stucco domes and spires, a mythic Mission past,
Huntington-plundered masterworks for wallpaper
Beneath a velvet pall that kills sound, they sing
braving elaborate arrangements, often well.
Men’s voices vibrate through chests and hearts.
Warm old organ pipes with smiling faces.
Singing “Tenderly” and “The Night Herder’s Song”
“Give your mom and dad my best,” they say, each one.
Dinner arrives on storied plates of white privilege
of how Dad saved their teenage marijuana-smoking asses
from jail, and it was all such fun. How mighty fine it is
to be white, and male, and not even know your luck.
But an Olympic daughter of a now-dead singer
finds me, hugs a picture of her father to her chest
and tearfully says, “...all the things I never asked him.
oh, the things I’ll never tell him. Thank your Dad for me.”
This splendid dying world, these odes, love harmonized,
inescapable, fading joy, tiger lily petals curling, wilting.
So I will walk again with Dad between spire and tower,
beneath vaulted stone, to blend my voice with ringing lyres.
Editor’s note: In addition to being poet and MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, the author was music director for the Princeton Tigerlilies from 1984-86.