This one makes me roll my eyes a bit. But the rhymes are perfect, so it’s a poem all right. The rhymes are crisp. Only “lord” and “record” aren’t perfect, but they’ll do.
“we judged him when we did not know / and we did judge him wrong”. I’ve dwelt enough on the maladjusted nebbish persona, but of course it’s a consistent motif. Here it’s a bit more complicated than just a clever exercise in run-of-the-mill self-pity, because much of what Henry is being “tried” for happened after his death. So he’s not guilty by reason of death. Other people are the causes. He’s just lying there quietly in his box, meat with a voice. It’s kind of funny, actually, but remember: It’s all a dream! But in the end maybe that’s just an excuse for run-of-the-mill self-pity anyway. The wound behind all this is real enough, and tragic enough, that the poet gets a pass.
I’ve never been called for jury duty, and the idea of studying law or becoming a lawyer always made me break out in a cold sweat. Nothing could possibly be further from my talents and interests, unless maybe it’s a Washington lobbyist for the coal industry, male pole-dancer, or Weepsy the Melancholy Birthday Clown. Actually, there’s a lot now that I think about it. But I hate regulations, and rules only matter in the breaking, and quit telling me what to do anyway. Who do you think you are?
Henry will emerge from his coffin eventually, likely none the worse for wear, though having learned some sort of important lesson.
Here’s what I really think: Even for a Pulitzer Prize winner, some days are better than others. Same goes for me. Excellent rhymes though.