Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Evanston: take heart

        I continue to read a few pages, err, screens, of IMMORTAL POETS each day and am now up to Thomas Hardy.
        Each poet is introduced with a brief biography and I just came across this:
        Two themes interested him all his life, romanticism and fatalism, and in his death he made a final demonstration of both.  It was Hardy’s wish to have his ashes interred in Westminster Abbey and his heart buried with his first wife.  But at the last minute, during the preparations for burial, a cat snatched the heart off the shelf and disappeared with it into the woods.
        This appears not quite to be true.
        Hardy did not want to be buried at Westminster Abbey.  After his death his second wife and various officials decided to bury him there, and his heart with his first wife.
        An even more macabre version of the story is found at a site called Poet’s Graves:
        When the local doctor was removing Hardy's heart he left the room momentarily and re-entered to find his cat eating it. As a result, the cat was killed and its body was placed into the grave too.
        Other sources denounce the cat as rumor.
        Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite writers, both as novelist and poet.  It is the kind of thing he might have written:  an old man’s wishes ignored by a jealous second wife and his heart eaten by a cat.  It ought to be true.


        The flatlands are frozen, as is much of this country.  Migration to the south and west is one of the few clear signs of human intelligence in our times.


        The figures in the photo are on the top of Carol’s desk in our sunny second bedroom where I often spend my days.  I glanced up yesterday just as the sun’s rays reached them.