"I've made out a willI" by Simon Armitage
I've made out a will; I'm leaving myself
to the National Health. I'm sure they can use
the jellies and tubes and syrups and glues, the web of nerves and veins,
the loaf of brains,an assortment of fillings and stitches and wounds, blood
- a gallon exactly of bilberry soup -
the chassis or cage or cathedral of bone;but not the heart, they can leave
They can have the lot, the whole stock:the loops and coils and sprockets
and springs and rods,the twines and cords and strands, the face, the case,
the cogs and the hands,
but not the pendulum, the ticker; leave that where it stops or hangs.
Warm-up chat: Does anyone carry an organ donor card? Reasons for? Against? Would anyone object to receiving another person's say, hand? Or eye? Should w "draw a line" at certain organs?
Read the poem: Focus on elements. List the body-part words: do they convey the look and feel of innards? Why not the heart? A "loaf"; "bilberry soup"; "chassis"; "cathedral": what do these words do for the descriptions?
Responding: Are you with the poet in his reservation? Where is the seat of the emotions? Should we divide ourselves into head (thinking) and heart (feelings)? Are we simply a mass of jellies and tubes and syrups? Or is there something else?
Follow-up: Photocopy an illustration of the human body (see biology textbooks); cut it up into bits, make a collage, rearrange sections, label them as sources of feelings; write an accompanying poem outlining your attitude to donating; to head and heart (emotion and thought); to the question: "Is the body only a machine?" Rowland Moloney teaches English at Sidmouth College, Devon