Showing 151 - 160 of 483 annotations in the genre "Poem"

Villanelle

Hacker, Marilyn

Last Updated: Jan-05-2006
Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

As suggested by its title, the poem is a villanelle: five tercets and, in lieu of a final quatrain, a final tercet, with the first and third lines, "Every day our bodies separate" and "not understanding what we celebrate" as the recurrent refrains (typically, Hacker makes some small changes to the refrain, with sensational effect).

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The Sick Wife

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-04-2005
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Poet Jane Kenyon, very ill with leukemia (from which she died after a 15 month illness), describes what it is like to be so weakened by illness that she prefers to wait in the car while her husband buys the groceries. She is aware of how weak, helpless, and out of place she is--a middle aged woman, sitting in the car in a parking lot in the middle of the day--"she had learned what it's like / not to be able to button a button." She watches enviously as those around her--"even the old and relatively infirm"--scurry about "with such freedom" and drive off in their cars "so briskly . . . ."

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Your Sightless Days

Monette, Paul

Last Updated: Aug-26-2005
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Paul Monette wrote about his partner's life and death with AIDS in both prose (Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, see this database) and poetry. This poem, a lyric elegy to Roger Horwitz, concerns Roger's loss of sight despite treatments for cytomegalovirus infection. It is a love poem; Monette's devotion to Roger is unbounded. If Roger cannot see, then the poet wishes not to see--this is empathy to the fullest degree.

When, in the up and down course of the visual problems, Roger can suddenly, temporarily see, then Monette gleefully cries, "I toss my blinders and drink the world like water." The poem contains numerous references to sight, light, and eyes, such as "blacked out windows / like an air raid," "peer impish intent as a hawk," and "I'm shut tight Oedipus-old."

This constant stream of images and the unpunctuated, no-place-to- relax-and-catch-your-breath rhythm of the poem leads the reader through the suffering and uncertainties and into the final lines--the mourning for Roger. Grief is loneliness; it is the desperate ache of MISSING someone. Monette feels isolated from "the sighted fools"--he yearns for Roger, who, through it all and despite feeling like Job, could "hoot on the phone / and wrestle the dog so the summer was still / the summer."

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Visits to St. Elizabeths

Bishop, Elizabeth

Last Updated: Jun-13-2005
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This is the house of Bedlam. So begins the strong poem by Elizabeth Bishop, the woman who wrote of that wretched old man who lived in the house of Bedlam. "This is the man / that lies in the house of Bedlam." So go the two lines of the following stanza of the 1950 poem about the cranky old man who was kept for his crimes in the house of Bedlam. "This is the time / of the tragic man" begins the three lines of the following stanza of the nursery rhyme poem by the consummate poet who wrote of "the Jew in a newspaper hat / that dances joyfully down the ward" and the brilliantly cruel and crazy man who lived in the house of Bedlam.

"This is the soldier home from the war. These are the years and the walls and the door." So starts the 12th and last stanza of the metrical rhyming repetitive poem by one of the finest American poets about Ezra Pound, an American poet, who found himself at the end of the war "walking the plank of a coffin board" and because of his treason becoming the man--the tragic, talkative, wretched and tedious man--who lived in the house of Bedlam. [79 lines]

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Starting the I.V.

Watts, H. David

Last Updated: Apr-22-2005
Annotated by:
Shafer, Audrey

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem explores the act of inserting an intravenous line (I.V.) into a patient just prior to induction of anesthesia or sedation. The physician-narrator is initially full of bravado, stating "I am good at this" and "I'm the best". The physicality of the act is detailed: the vein "lies stretched and succulent" and the needle "waits / like a mosquito attached / by its sucker." By the end of the second stanza, however, when the I.V. has been successfully inserted, the significance of this seemingly simple medical intervention is stated: "I am suddenly aware / I am connected to his brain."

It is this power, the fear of this power felt by both the doctor and the patient, and, by extension, the fear of anesthesia or sedation, that form the heart of the poem. The narrator states that he cannot let his own fears about anesthesia and "loss of control get in the way." Instead he accepts the power and control that the patient gives him and "bring[s] him down."

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Surgical Ward

Auden, W.

Last Updated: Feb-17-2005
Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Beginning with the words, "They are and suffer, that is all they do," this poem describes the experience of those who are recovering from surgery and their treatment at the hands of impersonal doctors ("The treatment that the instruments are giving"). Suffering and pain narrow the patient's world and isolate patients who "lie apart like epochs from each other" and for whom "truth" is "how much they can bear."

The speaker also describes how difficult it is to imagine pain when one does not have it ("we stand elsewhere / For who when healthy can become a foot?"). Finally, the speaker refers to "the common world of the uninjured" where we "cannot / Imagine isolation," but share happiness, anger and "the idea of love."

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Antenatal Class

Day, Sarah

Last Updated: Jan-31-2005
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Voluptuousness rules begins this oval, oviparous, oracular poem about "whale women" lying around on cushions, practicing pushing the bodies of babies from their bodies into the body of the rest of the universe. Turkish music, undulant arms, bulging breasts, the rhythm of secrets, the beginning of being ready to give birth--this, my friends, is a succulent poem!

"Antenatal Class" ends not with the moralistic healthiness of the typical Lamaze class, but with the body breathing, "tasting, hearing, through armpits, hair / and speaking softly oh oh oh / in letters it shapes with its pelvis." [22 lines]

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My Doctor

Bukowski, Charles

Last Updated: Nov-12-2004
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this narrative poem, the narrator enters his doctor's waiting room only to find that the room is full of "mostly old / dying women," and the doctor is not in. So the narrator decides to go to the racetrack, where he finds the doctor "standing there with / a hot dog and a beer."

The doctor explains that his practice is depressing; for example, "there's one / old woman, she's got / cancer of the ass." The doctor gives his patient a good tip on the next race. The narrator reveals that he, too, has cancer of the ass. The doctor gets them both another hot dog and beer and starts "talking / about what / a horrible woman / his wife was." [103 lines]

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He Makes a House Call

Stone, John

Last Updated: Oct-25-2004
Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

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."

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Ambulances

Larkin, Philip

Last Updated: Oct-11-2004
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Closed like confessionals, ambulances weave through the city. One of them might come to rest anywhere. When that happens, the onlookers momentarily see "a wild white face that overtops / Red stretcher blankets" as the patient is taken into the ambulance.

Suddenly, just for a moment, they "sense the solving emptiness / That lies just under all we do." The onlookers whisper in distress. But the ambulance moves on, the traffic parts to let it by, and "dulls to distance all we are." [30 lines]

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