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In Memory of our Emeritus Sammy McLean

Submitted by Michael Neininger on March 18, 2019 - 3:12pm
In Memory of our Emeritus Sammy McLean
Sammy McLean

We mourn the loss of our Emeritus Sammy McLean. Born on September 29, 1929 in El Dorado, Kansas, Sammy passed away in Seattle at age 88 on August 6, 2018. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma and earned a Ph.D. in Germanic Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. Sammy joined the department in 1967, after teaching at Dartmouth College and for the University of Maryland Overseas Program in England. He taught at all undergraduate and graduate levels in Germanics and Comparative Literature. He published a book on Bertolt Brecht; articles on Brecht, Franz Kafka, Gerhart Hauptmann, and the Double; reviews and abstracts; poems; and English translations of poetry and short prose fiction from German. In 1990 he retired as Associate Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature and Germanics. He was a member of the Seattle Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, and a lifetime member of the American Literary Translators Association.

Sammy had a lifelong interest in music and poetry. We are glad to share two of his poems:      



But I, in the

winter of my soul said

no I

think not I

think I’d bett4er wait a while for that I

have so many other things the

time’s not ripe . . .           Why,                                     

you have to prepare for something like that

you can’t just

POW! like do it

it takes time you have to prepare get

ready practice lace up your shoes pull up your

boot straps tighten your belt take a

big breath ready set go like you can’t just

DO IT!           Can you?

Don’t you have to DO SOMETHING ELSE

first?    Like

get ready?    LIKE I'VE NEVER HEARD OF


That’s impossible you have to

learn to do it first you have to

learn to do it like everyone else does so you can

finally do it or else you might do it wrong you might

do it your own way instead of the way everyone

else does it and that’s wrong.

So you have to do those other things first –






Oh I know things are as they

should be how

else but

the chance for rain doesn’t determine


I think

sometimes things should be

different snow in

summer what if it rained

upwards cows were

green I

loved you and

didn’t worry about my work



I want to be

a cowboy with my

own saddle my

own horse gallop

buck jump

fences take you

up ride

over plains through

sagebrush into

mountains away



Sammy McLean

Hesitation Blues, published in Western Edge, Arts Resource Services, 1977

Westerner, published in The Pacific,  volume 1, number 1, Summer 1975