Showing 131 - 140 of 483 annotations in the genre "Poem"
Summary:When "death came in out of the cold / And laid a glove on me . . . ." the poet worked feverishly, sang angry songs, "paroled / Myself with garlands of last words." He acted as if he were the hinge of the world. The dramatics were soon over, however, when he "fell into the ocean’s arms . . . . " Later, he "crept back into life as into much / Too large a pair of trousers."
An even-handed consideration of the essence of doctoring, this poem packs into a few short lines the paradoxes, frustrations, rewards, and dangers inherent in the profession. It depicts the doctor’s power, skill, humanity, dedication, and sometime arrogance, and the arena in which the work is done--"they are only a human / trying to fix up a human." Sexton warns that arrogance has profound consequences: "If they [doctors] are too proud, . . . then they leave home on horseback / but God returns them on foot."
Summary:A pregnant woman describes the harmony she feels with the fetus inside her during her pregnancy. She thinks of this fetus as a child already separate from her but in sympathy with her. She compares her feelings with an eighteenth century illustration of a pregnant uterus with a little man inside. She finds many similarities with this depiction.
Outside, on a stony street, the narrator watches as the hospital he’s about to enter materializes out of Edinburgh’s cold morning mists. The hospital is described as a place "gray, quiet, old / Where Life and Death like friendly chafferers meet." Like contemporary hospitals, it has a "draughty gloom" and loud spaces.
The narrator, who is the entering patient, follows into the hospital a small, "strange" child with her arm in a splint. She precedes him gravely; he limps behind. The narrator feels his spirits fail as he recognizes the "tragic meanness" of the place, a place with "corridors and stairs of stone and iron / Cold, naked, clean--half-workhouse and half-jail."
Summary:An old woman dies at home. After "the young ones had gone to bed," she arises and moves around the house, doing the usual things that defined her life--putting out the candles, mending a stocking, finding a lost glove--before she falls back into her coffin and is cremated in the morning.
Summary:A witty and wildly imaginative evocation of a female patient’s encounter with a male physician. The poem is full of the counterplay of eroticism and sterile technology, of the body as love object and object of diagnosis, of the doctor’s cool clinicality and the patient’s desperate neediness. To her, the doctor is an "abstracted lover" for whom she willingly lies down "while he unfolds / her disease . . . ." Orgasmically, "he warms / to his consummation" which is for him "a most enjoyable diagnosis." He is finished with her but she feels cheated--he hasn’t grasped her essence. "Don’t leave me! Learn me!" " . . . taste my living texture. / Sweat to hunt me with love, and burn with me."
In this domestic epic, a man and woman converse on the porch of their farmhouse. The man is just coming home in the evening; his wife meets him at the door to warn him that Silas, the old ne’r-do-well hired hand, had returned that day. She found him "huddled against the barn door, fast asleep, / A miserable sight, and frightening, too--"
Silas looked terribly ill, yet he didn’t ask for help. Instead, he told her he would cut the upper pasture, and he kept inquiring about the college boy he worked with on the farm a few years back. He and the boy argued all the time; now the old man wants to "make things right."
The husband shakes his head. No, he will not take Silas back. The old man walked away one too many times. You can’t depend on him to stay and finish the job when someone comes around offering him a little "pocket money" to go elsewhere. Indeed, Silas’s brother is the president of a bank; why doesn’t he go to his brother for help? At last the husband quiets down and goes in to see the old man, who is presumably asleep beside the stove. A few moments later, he returns to the porch. To his wife’s query, "’Dead,’ was all he answered." [175 lines]
Summary:Published in 1734, this poem of 7-syllable couplets describes how Peter goes to visit his college friend Cassinus. He finds Cassinus filthy and miserable in his dorm room and asks his friend why he is such a mess. Cassinus replies that he is in this state because of Celia. Peter wonders if Celia has died; if she has cheated on Cassinus; if she has been struck down by some disfiguring disease; or, ultimately, if there is something terribly wrong with Cassinus. No, replies Cassinus, to each of these in turn. He makes Peter promise not to divulge the terrible secret he has discovered about his once beloved Celia, and then tells him: "Nor wonder how I lost my wits; / Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits."
This is a poem that celebrates the divided self and disconnection. The speaker wonders whether his tendency to be scattered--to not "find out till tomorrow / what you felt today"--is natural, is in fact, "what makes our species great." Is this "dividedness" what allowed "surgeon Keats to find a perfect rhyme / wrist-deep in the disorder / of an open abdomen"? The poem ends with another kind of disconnectedness: a deliberate separation of self from "the whole world in unison" that is preparing itself for the onset of winter: "I have this strange conviction / that I am going to be born."
The poem describes how drinking skewed the speaker’s perspective on life (blurring night and day distinctions, etc.) and isolated him from others. The poem goes on to illuminate the speaker’s recovery, the result not of an Alcoholics Anonymous-type "higher power" but of the speaker’s own dark epiphany: "I recognized the night as night and chose it."