Showing 461 - 470 of 483 annotations in the genre "Poem"
Summary:At the bomb testing site, a lizard waits. It is expecting something, awaiting "something farther off / than people could see . . . . " The lizard grips the earth, "its elbows tense . . . ready for a change."
Summary:This is a powerful poem about the "ugly, grunting . . . disgusting creatures" the poet sees through his microscope. We know the creatures are dead, we know the creatures are sliced, we know they’re splayed on the pathologist’s slides. Are they microbes? Are they "bits of animals"? Are they cancer cells? No one asks "whether these creatures wouldn’t have preferred" to live "their disgusting life / in bogs / and canals" or to eat one another. No one asks any questions, "because it’s all quite useless . . . like everything else in this world," a world in which the poet meets "a lonely girl," a general, a rat, even "my own self at every step."
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."
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."
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 . . . . "
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.
The narrator has experienced an epiphany in which she can understand objectively, even forgive, her father’s abusive behavior toward her. She has seen in her mind’s eye her father as a child, in the bleak household where "something was / not given to you, or something was / taken from you . . . "; she wishes that the love she feels for her father now could have nurtured him as a child and saved him from becoming an alcoholic adult who mistreated his family.
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.
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."
A powerful lament over a father’s wasted life, and the "purgatory" of living in a household dominated by alcoholism and marital discord. Strong and graphic language weaves a complex web of conflicting emotions: hatred and self-hatred, scorn and pity, condemnation and forgiveness.