Visiting Hour Essay

A poem in which the poet explores the emotion of loss is “Visiting Hour” by Norman MacCaig. ‘Visiting Hour’ is a poem dealing with someone visiting a close relative in hospital who is terminally ill. The poet creates this loss emotion through his use of structure, metaphors and creates an ultimate acceptance theme to enhance my understanding of the central concerns of the poem.

MacCaig starts off the poem by using different types of structure, including enjambment, repetition and word order, to deepen the reader’s understanding of this emotion, loss. MacCaig starts off by commenting on the visitor trying to keep his composure in the hospital, just before he goes to visit this ill patient for potentially the last time. “I will not feel, I will not

feel, until
I have to.”
The poet uses enjambment here to make clear to the reader how serious a situation this really is, and emphasises on how this emotion of loss can make someone feel so different. This stanza also includes an example of repetition. ‘I will not feel’ repeated, along with the enjambment on the word ‘not’, collectively shows this explosion of emotions the visitor must be feeling, and the poet includes this to make the reader understand what this emotion is all about, and how emotions can alter peoples feelings in this horrific way. MacCaig also comments on the nurses in the hospital, using poetic techniques to successfully explore the theme of loss. “Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,

here and up and down and there,”
The listing used here by MacCaig is used to emphasise how much walking these nurses are actually doing, and how busy these nurses are looking after all the patients. The word order also shows how the poet is just describing the scene as he sees it, in his stream of consciousness. The word choice of ‘lightly’ and ‘swiftly’ is also ironic as these nurses have to deal with death and illness everyday, yet are being described in such a way that they don’t even have to think about their...
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