- Stanford, Ann Folwell
- Date of entry: Feb-17-2005
Beginning with the words, "They are and suffer, that is all they do," this poem describes the experience of those who are recovering from surgery and their treatment at the hands of impersonal doctors ("The treatment that the instruments are giving"). Suffering and pain narrow the patient's world and isolate patients who "lie apart like epochs from each other" and for whom "truth" is "how much they can bear."
The speaker also describes how difficult it is to imagine pain when one does not have it ("we stand elsewhere / For who when healthy can become a foot?"). Finally, the speaker refers to "the common world of the uninjured" where we "cannot / Imagine isolation," but share happiness, anger and "the idea of love."
The Selected Poetry of W. H. Auden