Winter 1942 • Vol. IV No. 1 Poetry |

The Long Vacation

"In a minute the doctor will find out what is wrong And cure me,” the patients think as they wait. They are as patient as their name, and look childishly And religiously at the circumstances of their hope, The nurse, the diploma, the old magazines. And their childishness is natural; here in this office The unanswerable perplexities of their existence, The demands they can neither satisfy nor understand, Are reduced to the child’s, "I hurt,” the bare Dilemma of any beast, to go on being. And they go in to the doctor at last; And go out to the hospitals, sanatoria, or graves He prescribes—look into the masked unnoticing Faces of their saviors, smell the sick Sweet smell of nothing, leave, send back their checks; But what was it? What am I? The convalescent stitched up with black thread, His pains withering like the state, his uneasy head Quieted with enemas and orange-juice, the mechanical Conclusive rudeness of Authority: poor Innocent, When you go drugged to death—no,

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Randall Jarrell was a poet, critic, and literary essayist. From 1937 to 1939 he taught at Kenyon College, where he met John Crowe Ransom and Robert Lowell.

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"In a minute the doctor will find out what is wrong And cure me,” the patients think as they wait. They are as patient as their name, and look childishly […]

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