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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Hardy died in Dorchester, Dorset, on January 11, 1928. Eva Dugtale washed his body and prepared it for burial. Hardy's ashes were cremated in Dorchester and buried with impressive ceremonies in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. According to a literary anecdote his heart was to be buried in Stinsford, his birthplace. All went according to plan, until a cat belonging to the poet's sister snatched the heart off the kitchen table, where it was temporarily kept, and irreverently ate it.
This anecdote caught my fancy and stirred gruesome imaginings. To think that one’s body part would end up being snagged by the fangs of a house cat and gulped in small mouthfuls into its belly are horrifying.
Worse yet, are the superstitions that the human heart is the seat of love and devotion, and should be cut out of the body and buried it a tiny tin casket with kittens playing on the top. A most Victorian mind set.
Hardy, as you remember, wrote several novels, but caused such an outcry of protest with Tess of the D’Ubervilles (1891) andJude the Obscure (1895) that he turned to poetry for the rest of his life.
I have painted Hardy and the family kitty for my own amusement and am selling it online at http://MoxyFoxDesigns.etsy.com.