On the Lehrer Report tonight, Christopher Buckley, in a discussion about Kurt Vonnegut, referred to Jonathan Swift's epitaph. I looked it up in my handy Bartlett's:
Ubi saeva indignatio ulterius cor lacerare nequit.
My Latin long ago turned to compost, but I take it that the sentence literally means something like this:
Where it is impossible that savage indignation can further lacerate my heart.
Thankfully, my Barlett's refers to Yeat's poem on Swift's epitaph, in which he wrote:
Swift has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
It's a little odd to think of Yeats writing about Swift's death in 1933 as if it had just occurred, just as it's a little odd to pair Swift's epitaph with Vonnegut. But then again, every wretched age—and they're all wretched—needs its satirist, and between Swift and Vonnegut is the writer who, as Buckley pointed out, is more Vonnegut's literary precursor: Mark Twain.
Henry had little to do with that threesome, but all this talk about oddity brings him to mind:
Henry sats in de bar & was odd,
off in the glass from the glass,
at odds wif de world & its god . . .
Kurt is no longer at odds wif de world & its god, but his book—the one I read—still is. So it goes.