- Coulehan, Jack
- Date of entry: Jan-28-2004
Auden wrote this poem in memory of his own physician, Dr. David Protetch. He begins, "Most people believe / dying is something they do, / not their physician . . . " Auden, whose father was a physician, knows better. His father had warned him about doctors who are too aggressive or too concerned with money. Fortunately, he found a consultant who thought as his father did, perhaps because he (Dr. Protetch) had himself "been a victim / of medical engineers / and their arrogance, / when they atom-bombed / your sick pituitary / and over-killed it."
While prescribing for Auden’s minor complaints, Protetch himself was "mortally sick." Because of this, Auden felt that he could trust his doctor to tell him the truth about his medical condition: "if I were dying, / to say so, not insult me / with soothing fictions." Thus, Auden praises Protetch for having been, "what all / doctors should be, but few are . . . " [78 lines]
Faber & Faber