Dear Carrol and Marcia,
That is the poem. I sent a post quoting the last two stanzas earlier,
and it seems not to have gone through. The dead mistress keeps asking
who is digging, and everyone has moved on or forgotten, but she then
realizes the complete loyalty of a dog, unlike any human. But as Marcia
notes, the dog is burying a bone.
I noted, however, that there is a true story of Greyfriars Bobby, a real
dog who lay down on his master's grave in Edinburgh and would never
leave. No one could lure him away, so they fed him and he lived for
years--as long as he lived. There is a statue to him near U of
>>> Marcia Karp <[log in to unmask]> 06/04/07 11:18 PM >>>
I think you must be remembering Hardy's "Ah, are you digging on my
grave." Dead mistress, not master. Burying, not digging up, a bone.
I don't know if the poem was published before its volume, but that
-- Satires of Circumstance: Lyrics and Reveries with Miscellaneous
Pieces -- was published in 1914. I find it hard, the tones being so
different, to think the Hardy poem is related to Eliot's reworking of
Webster's line, but it may have been something E knew.
There is a very enjoyable piece, "A Note on Hardy's 'A Spellbound
Palace'," in Christopher Ricks' Essays in Appreciation that has to do
with poetic relations between Hardy and Eliot.
It turns out to be spurious, but until recently it was thought that
Housman had written a very strange letter to J. M. Barrie (in reply to
Barrie's letter) that ends with Housman castigating Barrie for
misspelling his name. So, Mr. Cox, no e in Housman, unless you want you
hand slapped apocryphally.
Carrol Cox wrote:
>>Marcia Karp wrote:
>>What is so chilling in Eliot's use of the lines is that there is
>>menace, but no betrayal, in a wolf's, a foe's, digging up buried men,
>>but that a dog, a friend, would is horrifying.
>Is it Hardy or Houseman that has a dog digging at his master's grave,
>and when the master thanks him for remembering, the dog replies,
>but I didn't remember you were buried here and am just digging up a
>bone? And what was the publication date of that poem? And how familiar
>was Eliot with the poetry of whichever of them wrote that? (I'm pretty
>sure it's Hardy.)