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The Art of Palliative Medicine - 2016 Semester 2

Poetry has a way of being able to communicate in a few words what an essay can do in hundreds. I also have great respect for how a poem, when spoken aloud, can transform and intensify the message. The poem, When will the sun set?, follows a foot of verse termed iambic pentameter - Shakespeare was famous for its usage - and follows the rhyme scheme of ABAB for the majority of the text. In the final verse my reflection of the experience is described. Having not met a person in palliative care before, it was naturally compelling to consider the concept of death and dying. The use of the personal pronoun, “we”, refers to the other medical students who are all in the early stages of our lives and have the same task of reflecting on death. Though I found the whole process of looking back on what I had found out about this man’s experience and of trying to empathise with him quite an oppressing one - what I equated with ‘suffocating’ in the writing. I can’t claim to have done all the reflecting I am to do on death and dying, nor will I claim to have aimed to do so - it is but my first experience.

PDF version of " When Will The Sunset? "

For a year and a half; verdict unknown.
Weakness in the legs, yet not in the soul -
Nerve degeneration, protected bone.
A life, once fulfilled, now not quite whole.
With a click then hum, the wheelchair did state,
For this man, the reliance on others;
Without, to his body, he is an inmate.
Well informed: a struggle like his brother’s.
Totally fatalistic attitude;
For now, the horizon always moving.
Support; immeasurable gratitude,
Independence wanes, the plague removing.
“I had”, “It was”, he compared then and now;
So contrasting were the two conditions,
Against odds, accepted fate anyhow.
New reality; resigned ambitions.
When compelled to contemplate one’s own fate,
We, young as I, should hope not to think on.
Reflecting requires me to punctuate,
Or, like this man, would prove to suffocate.
Will the sun rise again? A thought withdrawn.