Visiting Hour by Norman MacCaig The poem is about MacCaig’s experience as he goes to the hospital to visit his wife. The poem takes us through his journey through the hospital, his thoughts and feelings until he get so his wife’s ward. Stanza 3 Repetition I will not feel, I will not Feel, until I have to. Poet chanting to himself – trying to control his emotions (painful) Tension in the poem builds here – he knows he’ll have to face emotions sometime. Stanza 4 Syntax Word choice Contrast Conveys a busy hospital atmosphere – nurses going everywhere at one and always on the go. Nurses walk lightly, swiftly, Here and up and down and there, Their slender waists miraculously They cope Carrying their burden well with death – Of so much pain, so admires them Many deaths, their eyes Still clear after so many farewells. Highlights difference between poet and the nurses Stanza 5 Minor Sentence Metaphor Word Choice Alliteration He gets close to her (kiss her?) but the pain is a barrier between them – feels hopeless The bed/curtain, she’s not really conscious Ward 7. She lies in a white cave of forgetfulness. Weakness/thin/fragile A withered hand like a flower trembles on its stalk. Eyes move behind eyelids too heavy to raise. Into an arm wasted Vampire image of colour a glass fang is fixed, reversed. The needle a fang – feels pity 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. Stanza 6 She knows he’s there Contrast Word Choice Pun She smiles a little at this Black figure in her white cave She has let go of control, feels Who clumsily rises faint/moving away In the round swimming waves of a bell Paradox And dizzily goes off, growing fainter, Highlights her situation and his distress. It seems a Not smaller, leaving behind only pointless situation – he can’t do anything to help Books that will not be read And fruitless fruits.