I was browsing a few other random blogs today, as I do when you lot I read regulary have been read, and I came across a poem on one which instantly took me back to being 17 again. It was one of the 9 poems we had to study as part of our Higher English exam way back when.
All 9 were by Norman McCaig, an Edinburgh man and one of Scotlands best known poets. I like a bit of poetry and had a great time doing my English Higher as I liked all but 2 of the McCaig poems we had to memorize and dissect. I also got to spent a year dissecting and learning Macbeth which I also happened to love!
I suppose I cracked it with this exam because out of the 9 poems we had to learn, on the actual exam day there would only be 2 of them we were questioned on and it just happened to be the 2 I liked best...which obviously meant it was the 2 I knew best as well! One was called "A Man In My Position" which was basically a love poem and the other was the one I stumbled on today. I can still remember letting out a wee squeal of delight when I turned the paper over and saw what poems it was...I can also still hear the adjudicator saying "would the young lady in the striped top, sitting 3 rows from the rear please refrain from making any further noise. This is an exam and noise is not permitted"!
Anyway here's the poem...I find it kinda sad...which is how you should feel apparently cause it's what I put in my english exam and I got an A!!
The Hospital Visit by Norman McCaig
The hospital smell combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.
What seems a corpse is trundled into a lift
and vanishes heavenward.
I will not feel, I will not feel,
until I have to.
Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously carrying their burden
of so much pain, so many deaths,
their eyes still clear after so many farewells.
She lies in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand trembles on its stalk.
Eyes move behind eyelids too heavy to raise.
Into an arm wasted of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain
that neither she nor I can cross.
She smiles a little
at this black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off,
growing fainter, not smaller,
leaving behind only books that will not be read and fruitless fruits.