Sunday at the State Hospital

Ignatow, David

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Dec-09-1996
  • Last revised: Nov-20-2006


The narrator is visiting a patient in a mental hospital and sits chewing his sandwich. He has also brought a sandwich for the patient (his brother? father? friend?), but the patient just holds his sandwich motionless in front of his mouth. The narrator tries to accept this as ordinary; he keeps chewing. But his "past is sitting in front of" him, trying unsuccessfully "to bring the present to its mouth."


A simple 15 line poem about the gap that lies between the "normal" world and the world of the mentally ill, and the possibility (or impossibility) of communication.

Primary Source

Poems 1934-1969


Wesleyan Univ. Press

Place Published

Middletown, Conn.