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English Literature

'I've made out a will; I've left myself'

For some background on Simon Armitage, look at the context section of Homecoming.

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I've Made Out A Will; I've left myself

I've made out a will; I'm leaving myselfto the National Health. I'm sure they can usethe jellies and tubes and syrups and glues,the web of nerves and veins, the loaf of brains,and 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 that alone.

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.

A pencil on the page

Picture courtesy of Dhaumya Mehta

The poet announces that he's made a will and is leaving his body to the National Health Service - all except his heart. He lists many of the body parts that will be donated - described in terms of messy foodstuffs or parts of a clock - before stating firmly that he does not want his heart included (although the heart is perhaps the most valuable organ to the NHS, as it could be used for a transplant). He does not really explain this decision, beyond suggesting that his heart is what makes the mechanism go - "the pendulum, the ticker".

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