David Ferry's At The Hospital

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One of the many fascinating features of our language is how often one word in any piece of literature, when used correctly, can have such a powerful impact on its readers and listeners. One example of literature that uses language in order to evoke meaning is poetry. Poetry is enriched by capturing the attention of the reader or audience, while also evoking different emotional responses, such as sympathy, anger, sadness, etc—. It’s simply amazing how just one word can be so crucial to a poem’s total effect and theme. In David Ferry’s poem, “At the Hospital”, the speaker says, “She was the sentence the cancer spoke at last, / Its blurred grammar finally clarified.” This is the full extent of the poem, but despite the length, a lot is said in only a few chosen words. In this poem, the word cancer alone has a significant effect on the reader’s attention and emotional response in a way that other words don’t evoke. One beautiful word, though the meaning is not, is what really captures the reader’s attention in this poem. A theme is the central idea of the poem; it tells the reader what the poem is really about. Typically, it’s rare for a theme to be explicitly relayed in a poem, but this particular poem pinpoints the theme in the first line. Without the word ‘cancer’ specifically stated in…show more content…
The theme of a poem helps to create the total effect that the poem has on the reader. Identifying a poem’s theme can be an important factor in identifying a poem’s theme and vice versa. The meaning of effect is a change that occurs when something happens or is done. The term ‘cancer’ single handedly creates the poem’s total effect. The term creates multiple effects that can be determined by whom the reader is. If the poem was written the same way, but without the term ‘cancer’, it might still be a poem about a disease or illness. Except, the total effect of the poem wouldn’t be the same as it would with the term ‘cancer’

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