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A Piece of My Mind
August 15, 2012

To Live (and Die) as an Original

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Senior Editor.

Author Affiliation: Centre for Ageing, Neuroscience and the Humanities, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland (doneill@tcd.ie).

JAMA. 2012;308(7):679-680. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.9200

Poetic license does not generally lend itself to dispute. Yet occasionally even the most beautiful poem contains a gritty kernel that works its way to the surface and provokes a late inflammatory intellectual response. For me, this moment came with a signature poem of one of the major poets of the 20th century, Patrick Kavanagh. In the opening lines of his “Memory of My Father,” the great poet of the commonplace alludes to the old men that he sees on the streets of Dublin and London: “Every old man I see reminds me of my father.”