Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0419 Tribute To A Listening Man (George Steiner) - Poem by Michael Shepherd

The TV studio set for a prestige production
of the sort that wins renewed network contracts
if not viewers, late on Sunday night:
the subject, a weekly series on
The History of Christianity -
worthy discussion leader, impressive panel
mingling ecclesiastical robes of
a glowing spectrum of faiths with the
open-necked, for open-minded,
dress-down of young freethinkers, but
respectful of their elders, with it;
subtle lighting on the semi-circular panel
and the background, tastefully designed
with hints of the history of otherworldliness

and among the assembled voices
of faith and reason in their polite battle,
the great intellectual guru of the Western world
himself – would his searing intellect, his daunting
global dimensions of mind, dominate
this gathering?

Life can have its glorious surprises even
on a dozy, precious-last-weekend-hours
of a Sunday night – George said his piece,
then, challenged by the other speakers,
sat there listening: as if, without a resistant, reacting,
or self-regarding thought in his head –
listened rapt in full attention, as if expecting
to listen to a further, deeper truth from
those who argued against him – his face
benign, almost smiling

I have never seen such intellectual humility –
as if, way, way beyond the personal, a mind
was listening constantly, for truth, to truth itself..
listening to that listening,
I felt proud to be
a human being.


Comments about 0419 Tribute To A Listening Man (George Steiner) by Michael Shepherd

  • (12/11/2005 8:59:00 AM)


    What a great tribute, Michael, that so great a mind can show such humility. It is rare, indeed, and your poem is such a comment on your view of what it is to be human.

    Raynette
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  • (12/11/2005 8:15:00 AM)


    A wonderful tribute, Michael. I confess that I too had never heard of the man. The format sounds remniscent of Steve Allen's and Jane Meadow's 'Meeting of the Minds, .' a series of programs that set 4 individuals from different eras in history round a table. For instance, you might have Thomas Paine, The Marquis De Sade, St Augustine and Catherine the Great exchanging viewpoints. I always regarded Steve Allen in the same way that you regard George Steiner, although you put your tribute together far eloquently than I ever could. (Report) Reply

  • (12/11/2005 7:33:00 AM)


    Yes, what a tribute. I somehow missed hearing about him, but a quick google search finds quite the prolific and influential man. (Report) Reply

  • (12/11/2005 6:30:00 AM)


    A great tribute Michael. And a great message. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, December 11, 2005

Poem Edited: Saturday, July 15, 2006


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