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View a eulogy for William K. Sullivan, USMA '66, who passed away on August 8, 2008.

William K. Sullivan

West Point, 1966

Be Thou At Peace

Posted by Ed Wright on March 16, 2009:

Silky and I shared our last two years as cadets in Company A-4. We exchanged authorship of the snapshot-bios under our pictures in our '66 "Howitzer", but I could not include for him what the passage of the intervening 40+ years has coalesced into my impressions of him: I think he was a man of Camelot, that essence of the romantic era in which our nation, and our academy, were immersed and was so cruelly altered in November 1963. Silky at his core remained centered on the images of the noble round table peopled by chivalrous knights, led by a great king and supported in virtuous endeavours by the protective wisdom of an overseeing wizard, all his image of West Point and it's place in the nation. His sometimes wistful, even sad on occasion, demeanor foreshadowed how he would resolve the image and the new, harsh reality. He stayed with the military, but ultimately the Air Force, a knight. And he disciplined himself to become the virtuous member of the round table, a medical doctor, a general practicioner in preventive medicine. I never had the opportunity to ask him, but perhaps Silky would recognize the spirit of himself in Tennyson's poem "Merlin and the Gleam":

O Young Mariner,
You from the haven
Under the sea-cliff,
You that are watching
The gray Magician
With eyes of wonder,
I am Merlin,
And I am dying,
I am Merlin
Who follow the Gleam.

Mighty the Wizard
Who found me at sunrise
Sleeping, and woke me
And learn'd me Magic!
Great the Master,
And sweet the Magic,
When over the valley
In early summers,
Over the mountain,
On human faces,
And all around me,
Moving to melody,
Floated the Gleam.


Then, with a melody
Stronger and Statlier,
Led me at length
To the city and palace
Of Arthur the King;
Touch'd at the golden
Cross of the churches,
flash'd on the tournament,
Flicked'd and bicker'd
from helmet to helmet,
And last on the forehead
of Arthur the blameless
Rested the Gleam.

Clouds and darkness
Closed upon Camelot;
Arthur had vanish'd
I knew not whither,
The king who loved me,
And cannot die;
For out of the darkness
Silently and slowly
The Gleam, that had waned to a wintry glimmer
On icy fallow
And faded forest,
Drew to the valley
Named of the shadow,
And slowly brightening
Out of the glimmer,
And slowly moving again to a melody
Yearningly tender,
Fell on the shadow,
No longer a shadow,
But clothed with the Gleam.

And broader and brighter
The Gleam flying onward,
Wed to the melody,
Sang thro' the world;
And slower and fainter,
Old and weary,
But eager to follow,
I saw, whenever
In passing it glanced upon
Hamlet or city,
That under the Crosses
The dead man's garden,
The mortal hillock,
Would break into blossom;
And so to the land's
Last limit I came---
And can no longer,
But die rejoicing,
For thro' the Magic
Of Him the Mighty,
Who taught me in childhood,
There on the border
of boundless Ocean,
And all but in Heaven
Hovers the Gleam.

Not of the sunlight,
Not of the moonlight,
Not of the starlight!
O young Mariner,
Down to the haven,
Call your companions,
Launch your vessel
And crown your canvas,
And ere it vanishes
Over the margin,
After it, follow it,
Follow the Gleam.

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