The poem also contained many metaphors that were very effective. These metaphors were in verse five, when he is in the hospital by his wife’s beside. Firstly he says, “a white cave of forgetfulness,” by this he means that the sheets on her bed are white and contrasting to the black all around her. She was on medicine and maybe that is the reason she was full of forgetfulness. The second describes the frailty of her hands, “a withered hand trembles on its stalk,” and this describes the frail hand shaking, with a drip attached.
I think that this is effective because of the way it says that the hand is withering away comparing it to the stalk of a flower. Next, he writes, “into an arm… a glass fang is fixed,” which is saying the drip is sucking all of her blood out like a vampire. The poet finishes off the verse with a meaningful sentence, “the distance of pain that neither she nor I can cross,” by this the writer is saying that in no way can he even try and think what his Wife is feeling and there is also no way that his Wife can sense what he is going through.
In the last paragraph, MacCaig tries to cross this barrier of pain. He does this by writing the last verse in his wife’s perspective. He uses sounds that his wife hears like, “in the round swimming waves of a bell,” and he also writes about what she is seeing through her eyes, “and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,” and this shows him trying to break this barrier that he said he couldn’t break. As the poems finishes there are two symbolic sentences said.
The first one which is, “books that will never be read,” means that if you are in hospital for a long time then you would expect books. However, if you have been telling someone that they are going to get better and will be out of hospital soon, then books shouldn’t be an option as they might get the impression they are here to stay. Also, if the book is not going to be read then that also indicates that they are going to die.
The second area of symbolism is,”fruitless fruits,” and this symbolises that fruit that may be given to someone in hospital, and if it is fruitless it is also lifeless, as fruits are good for you. I conclude that the poet uses good techniques throughout by use of metaphors and symbolism. Throughout the poem he makes me feel empathetic towards him. Although the poem proved confusing at times with his unusual ideas, I still really enjoyed it and I really felt the power of the last two words, which were, “Fruitless fruits. “