Ode to Bernard Bragg
(On Fanwood’s Honorary Founder’s Award)

O, Prince of Players on the Silent Stage!
You are much more than that, you are the rage
Of players and playgoers, deaf or not,
You are their link to dwell in Camelot
For one brief shining hour. There to dream
The dream impossible, which fits the theme
Of all that you have tried and dared to do–
“La Mancha’s Man,” and we could call you, too,
“The deaf Olivier.” You have all the talent
To make us gaze in awe and wonderment
As, with those golden hands that dance and sing
You paint the air with vivid imaging
And with such flights of fancy and emotion
All printed poetry is seen in motion!

How very like Houdini! Your offhand mimes
Made Marceau’s art seem boring oftentimes-
You’d challenge us to give you our best shot
Then improvise like magic on the spot!

Like “JFK,” you strove for “New Frontiers”
And proved you had the stuff of pioneers–
You popularized “The Quiet Man” on TV,
Then opened many doors for NTD
As actor, mentor, author, and translator
And with the LTD, a procreator.

You were the first to break “the Iron Curtain”
Performing in a play of Russian version;
And often went abroad to lend your skill
To make deaf people still more versatile
In theatre arts and sign communication
And, like Bob Hope, you were an inspiration!

At Gallaudet, you once won an award
For writing poetry– and your reward
In later years was a unique position
As resident artist and academician
In recognition of the roles you played
The while you made the whole wide world your stage,
And, taking pride in you, they did decree
An Honorary Doctoral Degree!

Now you return full circle here at Fanwood
Where as a bright cadet in early manhood
You won the hearts of teachers and your peers
And launched upon a fabulous career.
Like Ulysses, you have become a legend
Returning home from one long journey’s end,
And, having earned a place in history.
On Fanwood’s Founder’s Day we honor thee!

– Robert F. Panara

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