Aphasia: the Breakdown of Language

Freisinger, Randall

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Feb-07-2001


The poet looks through a one-way window into a room where a speech therapist is working with his father, who has had a stroke. The father doesn't seem to be doing well with re-learning language, until suddenly he begins to sing an old hymn, "Jesus loves me, this I know, / For the Bible tells me so . . . " [23 lines]


Patients with expressive aphasia can sometimes verbalize phrases, or even lengthy song lyrics, dredged-up for the occasion from their long-term memory. But what is the "occasion"? Why this particular hymn? Perhaps the man is reacting to his disability and lack of control by expressing his belief in a comforting presence. Or perhaps there is something about the young female therapist that reminds him of his mother. "Hosannas of inarticulate praise" are simply that--inarticulate.

Primary Source

Plato's Breath


Utah State Univ. Press

Place Published

Logan, Utah