Showing 571 - 580 of 729 Poetry annotations

Old Folk's Home, Jerusalem

Dove, Rita

Last Updated: Oct-21-1997
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Visiting an old folk's home in Jerusalem, the narrator notes the details of life and of nature--evening, the bees' buzzing busy-ness gone for the day, "the honeysuckle / in its golden dotage, all the sickrooms ajar." There ends, however, the "normal," for in the next lines we are brought up short with "Law of the Innocents: What doesn't end, sloshes over . . . even here, where destiny girds the cucumber." What are the Innocents doing in an old folk's home? And are the honeysuckle and cucumber vines the "destiny"--the liquid life-lines of feeding and IV tubes--that "gird" the occupants?

In the second stanza, the narrator recognizes that no matter what the occupants (or the narrator himself/herself) have ever accomplished, nothing of worldly success matters here. What is real are "horned thumbnail[s] hooked into an ear" and "gray underwear wadded over a belt."

The third stanza shows the narrator trying to come to terms with what he or she has seen and learned: old age is "minimalist," like the night air and the desert; light cannot overcome darkness; all that remains is the moment, itself nothing of any great magnitude: "finch chit and my sandal's / inconsequential crunch." The last stanza, one line, reads: "Everyone waiting here was once in love."

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Womansong

Johnson, Marilyn

Last Updated: Oct-07-1997
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The conflicting experiences of puberty for girls is the subject of this poem. A girl's bodily self awareness coincides with society's devaluation of a girl's sexuality. The conflicts between innocence, dirtiness, sexuality, and learning "to love yourself again" constitute the complexity of coming of age for young women.

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Premenstrual Syndrome

Nelson, Sharon

Last Updated: Oct-07-1997
Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator of this poem describes all the kinds of things that disrupt your life when you experience PMS (premenstrual syndrome): impatience, dissatisfaction, irritability, temper, feeling overwhelmed. You notice that others avoid you, your doctor tries to treat your symptoms, and everyone sympathizes with those around you for how difficult you are making their lives. In the end, though, how does a woman know that her PMS-related perceptions aren’t really the accurate ones, that her temporary unhappiness isn’t really justified, or that her everyday comforts aren’t illusions?

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The World Book

Cramer, Steven

Last Updated: Oct-03-1997
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In the past, the father has tried to help the child cope with earache by showing him how the ear works, providing a visual image of the ear's anatomy from the encyclopedia. It didn't help the pain. Now that the father is chronically ill, his adult son tries to help, but cannot (even with an encyclopedia that purports to contain the entire world) produce a visual image, or metaphor, to explain the illness, or "what brought us here." Instead, he gives his father a Walkman, hoping that the music will "help him pass the hours in dialysis."

The son can see his father's blood, circulating in the dialysis machine (just as the father helped the son visualize what was happening in his sore ear), but the son cannot feel (or see, or hear--or, even though he's a poet, find a metaphor to convey) what it is like to be his father. This isolation is ironically emphasized by the son's gift: because of the Walkman, the father falls asleep "to a music I can't hear / And for which there is no metaphor."

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Tuberculosis

Abse, Dannie

Last Updated: Oct-02-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

In the past, "tuberculosis" was a taboo word. The poet reviews the disease's many names and its history. John Keats said, "Bring me a candle, Brown. / That is arterial blood, I cannot be deceived / in that color. It is my death warrant."

For centuries so many died of tuberculosis; physicians were so impotent to help. Now, a patient accepts the fact that his chest x-ray has cleared as unremarkable, "as his right / and is right."

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Brain Scan

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The urgent voice in this poem tells the patient to "Be still." The patient is about to undergo a brain scan (CT or MRI?) and the poem consists of a series of instructions. Don't worry about the discomfort or the side effects of the dye, the poem demands, "forget that your cradled head / may reveal a hard secret soon," the only thing that matters is "the subtle / shading of mass, some new darkness afloat / in the brindled brain sea." [16 lines]

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The Virus

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The author knows that the virus's attack "is not personal." His individuality means nothing to the virus. Yet, for three years he has been ill, he has been "occupied by an unseen / enemy," he has lost control. Thus, being human, he must take it personally.

In fact, as a result of the infection, he is no longer the self he once was, but has seen "the banks / of self erode." Though the virus has changed the story of the writer's life, the virus does not really need him "to live any more than faith / needs a body of truth / to thrive." [50 lines]

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Home Remedies

Skloot, Floyd

Last Updated: Sep-16-1997
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This eight-part poem presents the wisdom of home remedies. The first voice tells the sick person to drink the juice of half a lime each day. "No virus can stand up / to a lime." The second voice explains the toxic effects of electromagnetic waves. Another tells him to submerge himself in garlic. Still another says to "visualize little men / in white overalls / scrubbing the lesions / from your brain." With regard to diet, one home remedy advises abstinence from bread, vinegar, dairy products, bread, corn, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, vitamins, fruit, meat, fish, and fowl. In the end the only solution is to "embrace your illness . . . . "[133 lines]

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A Story about the Body

Hass, Robert

Last Updated: Sep-15-1997
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This short prose poem (a single paragraph) concisely tells a powerful story. A composer at an artist's colony believes he has fallen in love with a woman of almost sixty, a Japanese painter. One night, late, at her door, she acknowledges their mutual desire, but warns him that she has had a double mastectomy. He leaves her, apologizing. In the morning he finds that she has left a bowl on his doorstep, filled with dead bees covered by a layer of rose petals.

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Old Ladies' Home

Plath, Sylvia

Last Updated: Sep-15-1997
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The poem's omniscient speaker describes the inhabitants of an "Old Ladies' Home" with bleak and dehumanizing detachment. In the first of the three seven-line stanzas, the fragile elderly women appear "like beetles" who "creep out" of the institution's buildings for the day. Their habits and relationships are observed in the second stanza: knitting, and children who are "distant and cold as photos," with "grandchildren nobody knows."

Presaging the arrival of death in the last stanza, the ladies wear black, "sharded" in it, but even the "best black fabric" is stained red and green by age. In the evening they are called in by the nurses, "ghosts" who "hustle them off the lawn" to their beds, which resemble coffins, and where Death waits.

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