Stanzas two and three

By the second stanza, the issue of mortality is evident as the visitor describes the progress of a dead body into a lift. In the speaker’s mind, the rising lift becomes symbolic of the journey to heaven. MacCaig uses a metaphor as the speaker describes how the patient vanishes/heavenward.

The comparison of the lift's journey with a journey of a soul to heaven serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death. A simple journey takes on a more symbolic significance as the visitor (though uncertain the patient is dead) applies a dark interpretation. The use of enjambment in the final line heavenward emphasises and isolates this word and reinforces the finality and isolation of death.

In the third stanza the speaker focuses on himself and the effect this situation is having on him. The repetition of I will not feel is testament to the speaker’s determination not to allow his emotions to overpower him. We can imagine this shows the speaker’s fear of being overwhelmed– they worry they will break down, unable to cope with the painful reality of the situation.

On the surface, this might seem rather cold but, in such situations, most people would try to maintain their composure and to prevent a particularly ill patient from seeing their fear and concern. The use of enjambment especially emphasises the word “feel” and clearly conveys how desperately the speaker would like to remain numb.