Showing 1 - 10 of 15 annotations associated with Stone, John
The poem was inspired by a painting of the same title by Edward Hopper (Early Sunday Morning). Stone describes what is visible in the painting and then muses about what "may be" happening. For example, in "the next block someone may be practicing the flute."
Hopper's painting, like all art and literature, is an invitation for engagement, reflection, and expansion. While Stone inventories the painting's urban terrain, he is compelled to enter into the picture with his imagination. By doing so he demonstrates our dual capacity for both the facts of science and the less precise, but equally valuable impulses of fiction.
Gaudeamus Igitur was read by Stone as a graduation address for the class of 1982 at Emory University School of Medicine. The poem begins with "For this is the day of joy," and ends with, "Therefore, let us rejoice." Between these two lines, Stone (both poet and physician) piles image after image, detail on detail, paradox on paradox: "there may be no answer," he writes, "For you will not be Solomon / but you will be asked the question nevertheless." He writes about the sorrows ("For whole days will move in the direction of rain") and difficulties ("For the trivia will trap you and the important escape you") of medicine, as well as about the joys of medicine ("For there will be elevators of elation").
This is a poem about medical success. The cardiologist speaker addresses a patient in absentia, thinking about the progress of the man's case on the occasion of making a house call. The doctor recalls the valve-replacement operation he performed in his early years of practice and is pleased that, clumsy as the replacement may be next to a good natural valve, it has kept the patient alive for seven years. The speaker sums up his view (in lines often quoted): "Health is whatever works / and for as long."
For those who have enjoyed his previous collections, this edition of new and collected poems (22 new, the rest culled from collections published from 1972-1998) will be a welcome and rich sampling of Stone's work, wide-ranging in style and subject. The three sections of new poems include a series about incidents in Serenity Gardens, his mother's nursing home; a series of "Reflections from the Middle East" that chronicle moments evocative of classical and biblical story and ethos as well as touching, comic incidents in the life of a 60-something tourist; and a short series of poems based on memories from childhood and young adulthood.
The poems tend toward narrative; many are little stories complete with plot in one to two pages of short lines; Stone's gifts for both chronicle and condensation give many of the poems a lively tension: what is told suggests how much isn't.
As a collection it is possible here to trace the stylistic development from the early poems in The Smell of Matches with their strong autobiographical focus and sense of intimate scene and situation to the recent ones, still strongly personal, but reflective, sometimes ironic, with lines that render the self-awareness of the older poet in sometimes comic flashes.
Summary:The physician prepares himself to deliver the news of a death to a family. His white coat symbolizes this role in his professional life; and when he takes it off at home, he becomes only a man with chores to do around the house. Yet that chore, replacing a lightbulb, seems to symbolize rebirth and the sustenance derived from personal life which allows the physician to continue in his often difficult role.
Summary:The author has witnessed both prolonged dying, occurring "slowly as rust"; and sudden, unexpected death, as "find[ing] the doorknob come loose in his hand."
Summary:As a medical student Stone moves ("in our own tense tendons") into a new understanding of the body, in which knowledge of names ("the word") gives power over the mysteries that lie under the skin. "Ribs spring like gates." Within the gates they [students] find the secret cause of death: an aortic aneurysm. But the aneurysm isn't just a fact; it tells a human story, a story of an "old sin-- / the silent lust / that had buried itself . . . ." Thus, the cadaver speaks.
Summary:Stone's 12 line elegy leaves the reader breathless as style and content merge to create the surprise of unexpected death. During autopsy a clot is discovered in an otherwise "nearly perfect" being.
Summary:In twenty-four short lines and colloquial diction, this poem movingly conveys the immense change that the deaths of several people close to the speaker have made in the simple act of answering the phone. "Used to / you'd say / Hello / and think nothing of it," the poem begins, but after the deaths "all that changed / and you think / now before you answer the phone / you take a deep breath . . ."
Summary:A truck bearing the sign: PROGRESS CASKETS -ARTHUR ILLINOIS is the occasion for the folksy speaker of this six- stanza poem to make some humorous reflections on boosterish attitudes towards death. "A casket / may be progress up in Arthur / but it's thought of / down here / as a setback."