Mrs. Dumpty

Bloch, Chana

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Oct-04-2005
  • Last revised: Dec-29-2009


This poem is written from the point of view of a caregiver, one with seemingly endless patience, who steps in to piece together her loved one after the "doctors gave up." Indeed, after Humpty has fallen again, we find him at the speaker’s door "begging / in that leaky voice / and I start wiping the smear / from his broken face."


The poet has taken a very familiar character, Humpty Dumpty, and offers us an unexpected voice--that of his wife. Mrs. Dumpty stands in some ways for "forgotten" caregivers of many chronically ill patients, exemplified, for example, by those who spend 36 hours a day caring for persons with Alzheimer’s disease. She represents also the tragedy and majesty of the co-sufferer. But one has to wonder how many more falls he and she will be able to survive.

The poem also works as a critical comment on the current state of health care and the desire to move "expensive" patients out of the health care system. The play/movie, Marvin's Room deals movingly and humorously with many of the issues above. (See annotation of film in this database.)

Primary Source

The New Yorker


Condé Nast

Place Published

New York


August 24 & 31, 1998