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Poetry and Medicine
May 28, 2003


Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(20):2618. doi:10.1001/jama.289.20.2618

In heaven it seems angels play Haydn quartets
in rooms much like the one shown in this cheap
hand-colored German print, where bourgeois gentlemen
with wigs and silk knee-breeches stroke their viols.
At left, three mob-capped ladies are delighted;
a studious listener stands behind the cello
with folded arms, and through the doorway comes
a well-fed pastor, not too late he hopes.
So it is in heaven. But I had a patient once—
a doctor too, as young as Keats–who listened
to Mozart all day long on his white bed,
waiting for a brain bubble to burst again.
When the time came, I could not stop his rush
to heaven. Such impatience! That was twenty
or thirty years ago, and still I suppose
he is listening, listening, much as I do now
on this balmy evening, here by the Pacific,
listening to Haydn warble about heaven.

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