Showing 1261 - 1270 of 1277 annotations tagged with the keyword "Death and Dying"

Father and Son

Kunitz, Stanley

Last Updated: Jul-11-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Through “suburbs and the falling light,” the poet follows his father, mile after mile, trying to reach “the secret master of my blood.” He tries to speak with his father, to tell him how things turned out--they lost the house, his daughter married, the poet “lived on a hill that had too many rooms . . . . ” Finally, at the water's edge, the poet cries out for his father to return; he implores him not to jump into the water. The father turns his head and reveals “The white ignorant hollow of his face.”

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First Coffin Poem

Ignatow, David

Last Updated: Jul-11-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poet expresses his love for his own coffin. In fact, he is already in the coffin. He urges the reader to see his coffin as a bench for his friends to sit on, or as a coffee table. Though it would be “so much simpler, less gruesome / to use an actual coffee table . . . or a real bench,” that would show us to be rigid: “We must make one thing / do for another.” He urges the reader to use his “pine box,” to take it home, to make it a “conversation piece.”

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Viewing the Body

Snodgrass, W.

Last Updated: Jul-11-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A big, splashy wake. The corpse is decked out in lipstick and fancy dress. In life, however, she "Was scarcely looked at, much less / Wanted or talked about . . . . " She lived her life unwanted and in isolation, but in death she achieves "a place of honor," in which everyone looks at her, at least until the casket closes and "the obscene red folds / of satin" embrace her.

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The Hospital Window

Dickey, James

Last Updated: Jun-24-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator descends from the hospital room where his father lies dying. As he leaves the hospital and crosses the street, he scans the tiers of hospital windows. He imagines "dozens of pale hands . . . waving," but he knows that his father is behind one pane, which is "the bright, erased blankness of nothing." He suddenly has a revelation that he and his father truly recognize one another, that neither is afraid for the other. He carries this vision away in "amazement."

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A Day in the Death

Williams, Miller

Last Updated: Feb-22-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A man lies dying in his hospital bed, "amazed how hard it is to die" and how long it takes. A nurse looks in, he tries to sleep, he smells "the cheap / perfume Death wears." He wants to die, but "Something's stuck." He almost asked a counsellor to "Give me a shove." He is afraid that when the sun rises again, he will still be there, alive, in "that shrinking bed . . . another day."

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A Flat One

Snodgrass, W.

Last Updated: Feb-22-1994
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Snodgrass writes about an old veteran who took seven months to die. The voice in the poem is that of a hospital attendant who provided some of the tedious, technical care that kept Old Fritz alive all that time. Though Old Fritz's "animal" may have "grown / sick of the world," his "mind ground on its separate / way, merciless and blind." He endured, he kept on living. Old Fritz raged against death, although he also "whimpered" and cried "like a whipped child . . . . "

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Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

I have never written against the dead, says the narrator, but in this instance, the death of her grandfather, she must. Why? Because, ominously, "he taught my father/ how to do what he did to me." The poem moves from a startlingly literal image of nursing the nameless dead, to the pocketwatch which was sent as a memento after this particular death, to specific personal memories of mistreatment at the hands of the grandfather. The narrator cannot regret this death.

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The Pulling

Olds, Sharon

Last Updated: Feb-09-1994
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator observes how her dying father is changing as he dies. She experiences the process as if she were giving cosmic birth to him,

and as if she could protect him in the safety of her womb.

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The Dead Body

Olds, Sharon

Last Updated: Feb-09-1994
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This dead body is to be treated with respect, not to be left alone or to be donated to the anatomy lab, or for organ transplantation. For the narrator, there is little difference between this body of her dead father and the unconscious body she remembers from so much of her childhood. She cannot make the distinction emotionally between the dead and the living father, " . . . this was the one I had known anyway, / this man made of rich substance."

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The Autopsy Room

Carver, Raymond

Last Updated: Dec-01-1993
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry — Secondary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In the first stanza the speaker describes his experiences cleaning the autopsy room at night. Sometimes they left corpses or parts of corpses out on the table. Once they even left a woman's leg (he'd "seen them before").

At home, though, the speaker was so distracted by these experiences that he'd sit with his eyes closed, or stare at the ceiling, rather than interacting with his wife. He was distant and cold; she tried to warm him. His "fingers strayed to her leg. / Which was warm and shapely . . . . " But what about the woman's leg on the autopsy table? He ends with the paradox, "Nothing / was happening. Everything was happening." Life and death, beginning and end, warmth and coldness, closeness and distance, feeling and the denial of feeling: all are part of the whole.

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