Showing 241 - 250 of 717 Poetry annotations

First Payment

Mukand, Jon Arun

Last Updated: Aug-21-2006
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This poem by physician-poet Mukand transforms what might be unobserved and ordinary into the visible and extraordinary. A frail old woman with a disease of "no cure," probably cancer, is in the waiting room at a hospital or clinic. The narrator, whom we suspect is the second character, as well, a medical student, spins with delicacy a thoughtfully real and imaginative description of the waiting patient.

Readers see her "blue gauze scarf," "her gnarled, polished walking stick," and her pained body, but are provided with, additionally, an imaginary account of the effects of the disease on the woman as she struggles with pain through her final months. When the student enters the waiting room, the woman extends her "brittle" hand, then pulls from her black bag a sealed envelope. When instructed to open it, the student finds a fifty-dollar bill "to help with school." Caught by surprise, he smiles, but leaves the bill in her palm: "It lies in her palm like a / handful of earth picked up, raised / to the sky / as an offering to the spring wind."

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Annotated by:
Davis, Cortney

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Anthology (Poems)

Summary:

This extraordinary anthology of 65 poems examines the relationship of parents to their grown children from the parents’ point of view. The poets are well known (among these, Grace Paley, Ruth Stone, Kumin, Maxine , Marilyn Hacker, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Linda Pastan), and lesser known, female and male ( Dick Allen, Raymond Carver, Hayden Carruth, and Robert Creeley), but all poems deal head on with situations that often confront parents.

Situations examined are: the addiction of grown children ("To My Daughter"), their illnesses ("Pittsburgh," "Anorexia"), their own visible aging ("The Ways of Our Daughters"), the frustration of poor communication ("Lowater Bridge," "Harmonies for the Alienation of My Daughter," "Listen," "Potentially Fatal Toes," "Letter to a Son I Once Knew"), the way parents aren’t really the people their children think they are ("The Children"), and the joy when, even for a moment, love and safety reign ("Time, Place, and Parenthood," "Visual Ritual").

In these poems parents stand at the doorway and watch their children caring for their own children ("Sometimes," "Practicing") and they invoke family histories ("The Blessing," "Girl Children," "On an Old Photograph of My Son"). They dread the ringing of the phone ("Hours After Her Phone Call," "Long Distance Call from the Alone & Lonely") and they worry over children’s marriages, physical pains, and the disasters in their lives that parents cannot fix but feel they might have caused ("What I Need to Tell You," ""Letter: Thursday, 16 September," "Love is Not Love").

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Levertov structures this poem in many ways like a Biblical psalm: repetition, irregular rhythms, direct address. The poem is also reminiscent of a Catholic litany in which saints are invoked in repetitive phrases. It moves forward by piling particularity upon particularity. The movement of the first part of the poem corresponds to the process of aging, preparing to die, letting go of the world, a natural flow or rhythm. However, this natural process is aborted: "She did not die."

The second part of the poem invokes the unnatural state in which she "lies half-speechless, incontinent, / aching in body, wandering in mind . . ." and describes the tubes and sores. "She is not whole." While the psalmist praises "O Lord of mysteries" for the beauty of sudden death, she cries "how baffling, how clueless / is laggard death . . . ." Death "that steals / insignificant patches of flesh" is a mystery.

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Episode of Hands

Crane, Hart

Last Updated: Aug-17-2006
Annotated by:
Terry, James

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The gashed hand of a factory worker is bandaged by the factory owner’s son. The worker is at first embarrassed, then compliant. As his fingers work, the owner’s son begins to notice the details of the other hand and to conjure images--"wings of butterflies" and "the marks of wild ponies’ play"--in the worker’s rough hand. Somehow this establishes a brief bond that transcends the class barrier between the two in an act of healing.

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Dying

Dyak, Miriam

Last Updated: Aug-17-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

A series of fifty-one poems recounting the death from colon cancer of one member of "a community of four people, two women and two men--potter, woodworker, poet, musician." These poems (actually one long narrative poem) convey the full range of emotions of someone who never before had been deeply involved in the process of dying.

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This five-part poem sketches five vignettes of the poet’s life. First, he sits in the doctor’s waiting room. Second, the doctor says " ’this lump is probably nothing, but . . . ’ " Third, the poet has a biopsy. Fourth, the pathology report, which is positive, " ’But be glad / These things are treatable today . . . Why, fifteen years ago --’ " Finally, the poet is outside on the street, observing "through my / Invisible new veil / Of finity . . . / November’s world."

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Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

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."

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Doctors

Sexton, Anne

Last Updated: Aug-17-2006
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

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."

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Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

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.

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Enter Patient

Henley, William Ernest

Last Updated: Aug-17-2006
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

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."

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