Two Little Ironies*
Dakota Indians placed a seed inside
The mouths of those they buried, then one day
A small but sturdy seedling gratified
The tribe, new life ascending from decay.
We white folk, much more civilized, first drain
The corpse, then fill it with formaldehyde,
Use rouge and cozy coffins to maintain
That this cadaver hasn’t really died.
Thomas Hardy’s Heart
When Thomas Hardy died, age eighty eight,
He still thought life was senseless incident.
He shunned, therefore, all mawkish sentiment,
Describing men instead as preys of fate.
And notwithstanding his longevity,
His poems, describing what we must endure
Suggest an early death deserves our envy,
Our daily lives a grind, our deaths “obscure.”
That Hardy earned Westminster all concurred.
A Vicar, though, had Hardy’s heart excised,
Placed in a cookie box. and then interred
Beside his wife, by whom he was despised.
Poetic justice? To pity Tom ignores
His well– known use of tasteless metaphors.**
*Hardy wrote a book of short stories called “Life’s Little Ironies.”
**Hardy was often criticized for describing crude actions and using ugly figures of speech. In “Jude the Obscure” a young woman, having just butchered a pig, flirts with the protagonist by throwing at him the pig’s penis, hitting him in the forehead. Hardy was also criticized for describing a woman standing on a knoll some distance away as appearing like” a fly on the head of a Negro.”