Showing 1 - 5 of 5 annotations associated with Mitchell, S. (Silas) Weir
- Coulehan, Jack
The poet stands before an ancient Lycian tomb, upon which is carved the sorrowful face of a woman: "One woman garbed in sorrow’s every mood." He reflects on the constancy of loss in human life. He asks the woman to weep for him, also, because [I] "Share thy stilled sadness, which must ever be / Too changeless, and unending like my own . . . . "
Though the Lycian woman’s grief is old, the poet’s is young. He has lost a child: "With that too human wail in pain expressed, / The parent cry above the empty nest." He is skeptical about dreams of a better life. He rejects "The first confusing, mad bewilderment, / Life’s unbelief in death . . . . " Death is real and final. He concludes with full understanding that "life is but a tender instrument / Whereon the master hand of grief doth fall."
Shortly after the American Civil War, neurologist S. (Silas) Weir Mitchell became interested in a certain group of women, whom he describes as "of a class well known to every physician,--nervous women, who, as a rule, are thin and lack blood." Mitchell’s basic premise was that these women, largely between the ages of 20 and 30, have lost their vitality as a result of some form of prolonged strain--which has caused them to become thin, of insufficient blood, and unable to perform their regular duties.
In his long essay, essentially a compilation of case studies, he further characterizes these patients and outlines the treatment which he found to be unfailingly successful in returning them to normal activity. The treatment he utilized had the following essentials: seclusion and rest; massage; electric stimulation, a high-fat and high-calorie diet. His patients were not allowed to see their families, nor to read, write or otherwise strain themselves. The average duration of therapy was six weeks, usually carried out in an institution or private retreat.
Of interest is the single male who Mitchell felt met the criteria for his treatment plan. This patient, who had some (to the modern reader) lung findings suggestive of tuberculosis, allegedly was cured after three months of bed rest and frequent feedings.
This short narrative is told in the first person, the person of the quack. The tale opens with the narrator in the public hospital ward, suffering from what his doctors say is Addison's disease, composing the tale of his adventures which makes up the bulk of the work. The narrator tells us about his training as a physician and his first practice, which was sufficiently non-lucrative that he determines to alter his career direction.
He moves through a series of increasingly seamy scams in search of quick and easy money--including claiming to be a homeopathic physician, then an expert in vegetable remedies and "electromagnetic" treatment, falling through a multitude of suspect activities culminating in his setting up shop as a spiritualist. His shady career is cut short by his illness, from which he abruptly dies, thus ending the narrative.
This short narrative, delivered in the first person by the protagonist, George Dedlow, is a summary of the fictive experience of a wounded Civil War Captain. George's training as a surgeon was interrupted by the war and he entered the Union Army as an infantry officer. He was shot by musket in both arms, resulting in the amputation of one at the shoulder. After rehabilitation, he returned to the battlefield, only to lose both legs at mid-thigh and subsequently the remaining arm to infection.
The remainder of the story is that of a trunk, a body and head without extremities, who experiences all the manifestations of the phantom limb syndrome. The final episode is an encounter at a seance during which Dedlow is transiently reunited with his missing legs.
- Coulehan, Jack
Summary:The poet stands in the Protestant Cemetery at Rome, beside the grave of John Keats, on which the epitaph is written: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." The poet addresses the cemetery ("Fair little city of the pilgrim dead"), commenting on the beauty of the place and of its music: "Sing in the pure security of bliss." Yet, even this serene place cannot comfort the poet, who has inherited "the anguish of the doubt / Writ on this gravestone."