Stanza six

In the final stanza, the visit ends and the speaker describes his departure through the eyes of the patient.

Contrast becomes an important feature in this stanza. The distance between the two figures (one alive, one near death) is highlighted in the description of the black figure in her white cave.

These contrasting colours show the different situations of the speaker and the patient. The visitor, black, is bold and stands out starkly against the white surroundings. The patient, on the other hand, looks weak and insubstantial.

In the line the round swimming waves of a bell, the poet uses the technique of synaesthesia where one sense, in this case sight, is used to evoke another, the sound of the bell marking the end of visiting hour.

For the speaker though, this bell has much deeper connotations - it represents the last time he will see the patient.

The imagery of the swimming waves could imply he is overwhelmed or drowning in his emotions as he recognises the bell's significance.

This sense of confusion and grief is reinforced by the word choice of dizziness in the next line as he clumsily rises and makes his way out of the ward.

The final image of the books and the oxymoronic fruitless fruits stand as reminders of the proximity of death.

Just as the speaker attaches negative connotations to the patient in the lift and the needle in the patient’s arm, so he recognises the pointlessness of the gifts left for the patient.

Neither the books nor the fruit will fulfil their intended purpose - the former will remain unread, the latter uneaten. These closing images offer a final reluctant recognition of the hopelessness of the situation.