When Professor Edwin Lumsden’s mother died, he left it to his only sibling, his sister Berwyn, to make all the funeral arrangements. After all, Professor Edwin Lumsden was a busy man. He had to lecture in poetry at the university twice a week, and each lecture took hours of preparation. Only last week he had lectured on the meaning of the bits of Greek in Ezra Pound’s poetry. This week he was lecturing on several of e. e. cummings’ 2,900 poems. His mother would have understood why he couldn’t afford the time to help organise her funeral, and besides, his sister was exceedingly competent.
And there it was – in the morning paper – for all to see. The obituary:
I know you find it hard to part
With me, O darling of my heart,
But only trust in Jesu’s name
And you shall see your mother again.
– Inserted by her loving son, Professor Edwin Lumsden
How could he face his academic colleagues after that? He was down to lecture about the impact of Duns Scotus’s philosophy on the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and then this bit of rhyming balderdash made its appearance.
Professor Edwin Lumsden couldn’t face it. He was ashamed. He was embarrassed. He missed the funeral and called in sick at the university for three weeks.