Showing 221 - 229 of 229 annotations tagged with the keyword "Anatomy"

The Body Snatcher

Stevenson, Robert Louis

Last Updated: Dec-19-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Four men sit drinking in a British tavern. There is a sick man in the house and a famous London doctor has been summoned to treat him. When one of the men, Fettes, hears the doctor’s name, Wolfe Macfarlane, he wakes suddenly from his drunken stupor and rushes to see the doctor’s face. He recognizes and threatens the doctor, who flees. Doctor Macfarlane and his accoster, Fettes, had studied medicine together under a famous--but unorthodox--anatomist.

They were in charge of obtaining bodies for dissection. Fettes regularly received and paid for corpses late at night from the men who robbed graves for them. One night, the body of a woman he knew was brought to his door; he was certain that she had been murdered but he said nothing. One day he met Macfarlane at a tavern. He was being strangely heckled by a man named Gray. The next night, Macfarlane showed up with Gray’s body and demanded payment for it. He had evidently murdered the man. Fettes was shaken but acquiesced. Soon the body was dissected, so the evidence of murder was gone.

Later, Fettes and Macfarlane were sent to a country church yard to exhume a recently buried woman. They sat their package between them as they traveled back. Suddenly, they perceived a change in the body. Unnerved, they got out a light and uncovered the face of the corpse. It was Gray.

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Annotated by:
Donley, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This remarkable poem notes the contrast between the mechanical, technologically manipulated heart today (without faith or spirit) and the mysterious, spirit-creating heart of Riverius. In the days of Riverius, the heart created spirit which "descended like dew" into the body and "ascended like steam" into the head--"how souls and bodies blended!" But now all mystery and spirit are gone. Cadaver-cutting scientists made an ox of the heart which pumps "the blood in dispirited circles" (note the wonderful use of "dispirited").

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem is essentially a list of the splendid variety of shit in the world. It begins: "You'll rejoice at how many kinds of shit there are . . ." and continues the catalog for 45 lines, from gosling shit, through cricket and mandrell shit, ending with "the shit of the wasteful gallinule."

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Washing the Corpse

Rilke, Rainer Maria

Last Updated: May-09-1995
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Two persons are washing the body of a dead man. It becomes dark and they light the kitchen lamp. Because they don't know the man, they invent his story: "since they knew nothing about his life / they lied till they produced another one . . . . " When the body is finally washed, it "lay clean and naked there, and gave commands."

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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 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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Autopsy

Stearns, Samuel

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

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In this avuncular poem the "recently alive" do their thing--lie "spread and silent / on the dented sink"--while the "aproned doctors" do their thing--"cut and weigh, / measuring / the diagnosis." The poem models the distance that sometimes develops between doctors and their feelings; the doctors insulate themselves from feelings. Contrast this with the protagonist of Carver's poem, The Autopsy Room (see this database; also annotated by Felice Aull).

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Fear of Gray's Anatomy

Galvin, Brendan

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

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The author will not open Gray's Anatomy again. Why? Because he sees in its plates of various organs mundane images, rather than the personal knowledge he imagined. He had "hoped someday to own" himself, but he finds that his "geography" is composed of others' names and others' history. The author is not there. You can't discover who you are by learning the parts you're made of. Or can you?

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