Thursday, March 27, 2008

Life is a near-death experience

The dead come on with us. In God’s home movie
of the cemetery, the visitors and the dead—indeed,
the vegetation—are indistinguishable. Each has a
different way of moving but from a distance you
would never know it. All are in transition.

Hence more than a hundred years I spent
In my feat of change from a coffin-thrall
To a dancer in green as leaves on a wall...

—Thomas Hardy,
“Voices from Things Growing in a Churchyard”

Hardy explores the same theme in such remarkable
poems as “Transformations” (“Portion of this yew/
Is a man my grandsire knew”) and “Heredity,”
which is really a late-Victorian take on DNA.

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