In memory of Mark Royden Winchell (1948-2008), author of biographies of Donald Davidson and Cleanth Brooks
He sits amid the facts he’s gathered in
From interviews, books, archives, scattered prose
Mastered at last so recollection’s pen
Can resurrect the dead by what he knows.
He minds the many pitfalls of his art,
Wary of how some storytellers err
In idolizing, tearing men apart,
Iconoclast or hagiographer.
He must engage, yet shuns the quick surmise,
With passion for those cool exactitudes
He isolates from hearsay, myths, and lies,
Tactful and tentative as he intrudes.
And when the work of long hard years is done
As chapters of his life in holograph,
He’ll rest with each dead man whose race he’s run,
Their hours enshrined in timeless epitaph.
(Originally published in Modern Age, Fall 2008)
(David Middleton’s verse salutes the work of the late Professor Mark Winchell, whose biographies of two of the most important Southern literary figures of the 20th century, Donald Davidson and Cleanth Brooks, are models of scholarship. Although born in Ohio, Mark Winchell was a true blue Southerner as well as an outstanding and prolific scholar and essayist as Professor of English at Clemson University. Winchell’s 16 books include Reinventing the South; God, Man, and Hollywood, and the coauthored Herman Talmadge memoirs. His last, posthumously published book is Confessions of a Copperhead: Cullture and Politics in the Modern South (Shotwell Publishing, 2022).