As I was thinking about the adjunctification of my profession recently, I was reminded of one of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets. Robinson is, for my money, one of the great portraitists in American poetry, but he could also “make your flesh creep” in a manner that Dickens’s Joe the Fat Boy would envy. And I wonder… will the day come when “There are no professors any more,” as we are increasingly seen as customer service providers? In any case, welcome back to the Mondoville stage, Edwin Arlington Robinson.
The miller’s wife had waited long,
The tea was cold, the fire was dead;
And there might yet be nothing wrong
In how he went and what he said:
“There are no millers any more,”
Was all that she had heard him say;
And he had lingered at the door
So long that it seemed yesterday.
Sick with a fear that had no form
She knew that she was there at last;
And in the mill there was a warm
And mealy fragrance of the past.
What else there was would only seem
To say again what he had meant;
And what was hanging from a beam
Would not have heeded where she went.
And if she thought it followed her,
She may have reasoned in the dark
That one way of the few there were
Would hide her and would leave no mark:
Black water, smooth above the weir
Like starry velvet in the night,
Though ruffled once, would soon appear
The same as ever to the sight.