Ian Hamilton’s “The Visit”

They’ve let me walk with you
As far as this high wall. The placid smiles
Of our new friends, the old incurables,
Pursue us lovingly.
Their boyish, suntanned heads,
Their ancient arms
Outstretched, belong to you.

Although your head still burns
Your hands remember me.


I have, for some time, been championing Ian Hamilton’s poetry on my blog, mostly because there are no collections of his work in print. This poem is most probably about visiting his wife in a mental health institution and presumably after she has had some sort of shock treatment. Wistful, terse, gentle in the setup of a light touching moment, brutal in its honesty of the reality and tragedy of love, a dam of regret and sorrow barely held back. To me, this is classic Hamilton, and one can only stand back in awe at the world of being he sketches in only a few lines.

Click here for a list of the other Ian Hamilton poems on the Book of Pain.

For more on Ian Hamilton, I refer you to: his Wikipedia page.

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s “The Visit”. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


Comments © 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved.


Filed under Poetry

5 responses to “Ian Hamilton’s “The Visit”

  1. These are beautiful poetry amid their pain and sorrow, so much love for each other. Thank you for sharing with us these poetry.

    • Seeker, thank you. Sadly I am probably going to have to stop re-printing Hamilton’s work. I just realized how many I have done and at some point I am sire the executors of his will, will take notice. But you are correct and it is a great way to describe his poetry: the intimate and intense connection he finds between pain and love.

      • That’s okay. At least you have provided us with over view of his poetry. We can always borrow the book from the library. As for the links of the other poems, they are equally good. Baha’i poetry reminded me of Rumi’s poetry. An intense longing for the “Beloved” and “Freedom.”

  2. He writes my kind of poetry. Thank you for publishing his work, John.

    • Isn’t he great? How his poetry cannot be more in view and popular, I do not know. I read it and read it and I keep thinking, “How does he put that much emotion in so few lines?!” All of Hamilton’s poetry is so very, very good. It has been an honor to post some of it, and I hope the executors of his will do not mind that I admire him so much that I have done so.