Wednesday, Aug. 21, 1996
Just after we all returned from another sweet day at the beach, Leslie Epstein, my colleague in Boston University’s creative-writing program, phoned from Boston to confer about the death of George Starbuck at 65 from complications of Parkinson’s.
George Starbuck preceded me at BU; his retirement because of Parkinson’s in 1988 made it possible for me to return to my beloved Boston from Berkeley, which, for all its dear friends, good weather, and superior food, had come to feel like exile. George was, in Leslie’s old-fashioned words, a good and honorable gentleman, and a wickedly funny poet.
Standing sandy-footed in this rented house, grandchild and parrot supplying background noise, I feel the sobering, increasingly familiar gust of mortality. A six-line poem written by Fulke Greville, Sir Brooke, in the 16th century–I promise to quote something more cheerful for Thursday–goes through my head. This is from memory, and may be a little wrong: