Visiting Hour

923 WordsOct 24, 20104 Pages
Visiting Hour Critical Essay A poem which explores the feeling of loss is ‘Visiting Hour’ by Norman MacCaig. In this powerful and moving poem, the writer uses techniques such as imagery, symbolism and word choice to effectively grip the reader and keeps them with him throughout the poem. The poem is set in a hospital as the persona visits a dying relative. It is mostly focused on his walk through the hospital to her ward, and to her bedside. Throughout the poem, the poet explores the themes of death and pain using the emotions and thoughts of the persona. In the first stanza, the writer uses many techniques to convey the feeling of loss, when he says, “Combs my nostrils As they go bobbing along.” He uses personification in…show more content…
This hints to us that he believes he has lost her already. The phrase “Into an arm wasted” symbolises death and how weak she is. Another metaphor is then used, “distance shrinks till there is none left But the distance of pain that neither she nor I can cross.” This longer sentence is used to echo the distance between them and her pain. The phrase, ‘distance of pain’ is a metaphor used to give an image of the literal distance between them and and the distance of her as she fades further away. In stanza six, we see the end of visiting hour, and the persona’s loss of control as he is overran with emotion. The phrase, “black figure in her white cave” creates an image of an intruder in her sanctuary. The black and white contrast suggests he is a shadow of his former self and also that he is trying to detach himself. The phrase, “clumsily rises” gives connotations of his state as he is physically affected by his feeling of loss. Furthermore, “swimming waves of a bell” is a metaphor which has connotations of water. This is used to illustrate that he is drowning in the realisation that she is dying. Finally, “fruitless fruits” is an oxymoron used to reinforce that there is no hope or going back, for her. In conclusion, the poet explores the feeling of loss in ‘Visiting Hour’ by Norman MacCaig. This intelligent and gripping poem uses many techniques- such as imagery, symbolism and word choice- to grip the reader and leave
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