The Hospital Window

Dickey, James

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Jun-24-1994


The narrator descends from the hospital room where his father lies dying. As he leaves the hospital and crosses the street, he scans the tiers of hospital windows. He imagines "dozens of pale hands . . . waving," but he knows that his father is behind one pane, which is "the bright, erased blankness of nothing." He suddenly has a revelation that he and his father truly recognize one another, that neither is afraid for the other. He carries this vision away in "amazement."


A simple 54-line poem with some rhetorical flourish, but fewer verbal pyrotechnics than usual for Dickey. A good poem about a parent's dying as a transformative experience, and the possibility that love conquers fear.

Primary Source

Poems 1957-1967


Wesleyan Univ. Press

Place Published

Middletown, Conn.