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Three Elling Solheim Poems

Philip, Alison Arderne

doi: 10.1097/01.ACM.0000222269.67835.fa
Medicine and the Arts

“Fate” and the “The Blue Jug” were translated from Norwegian by Alison Arderne Philip and first published in “Synnali,” Aschehoug, Oslo (1958). “Your Hands and Mine” was translated from Norwegian by Alison Arderne Philip and first published in “Leik i grålysningen,” Aschehoug, Oslo (1954). Printed with the permission of Elling M. Solheim's heirs and of the translator, Alison Arderne Philip.

Anne Farmakidis, senior editor of Academic Medicine, is the editor of “Medicine and the Arts.” (Unsolicited submissions are welcome.)

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The Blue Jug

A blue jug with a yellow handle

stands by my bed.

My hands can't trace its curve or hold

its calm smooth weight.

Out of my reach, it glows and fills

my days with joy.

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He was the liveliest lad in the village,

sparky and tough and

sharp as a knife.

Drank like a fish and walked with a swagger,

cocky and careless,

quick as they come.

When he came to the dance, the girls stopped their chatter,

holding their breath, while

he took whom he chose.

Now he's chained to a bed, his eyes on the ceiling,

thinking and waiting –

but not for the girls.

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Your Hands and Mine

Yours are active, lithe and strong,

weathered and warm,

beautified through work and toil.

Mine are failing.

Yours deftly grasp the staff of life,

they carve and mould,

triumphant in their joyful strength.

Mine are fading.

Your virile hands caress her face,

drink the cup,

hold her firmly, close and warm.

Mine are dreaming.

Yours give gifts of golden wealth

that brim with life.

My feeble, pale and futile hands

grasp insubstantial shafts of light.

© 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges