Tag Archives: mental illness



Roll up, roll ’round, curve over, curve down,
waves on the sea, beating/beating/beating,
pounding him and holding him down.
Dark with a deep sheen and lashed
by bitter winds that rip tears from the cusps,
their crashing breaks his back
and rolls the head off his shoulders.
They whisper, these sirens, as they curl and they smash
and demand he hears what isn’t there. He listens.

There are no unbelievers who go down to this sea
to sink beneath its waves, because it is only him that can hear him.
Sunrise-to-sunrise, pay this/pay that, naught-for-free/always-a-fee,
it has taken him, it has left him, it will forever surge
around him and through him, a storm raging in the lee
that he should be, but is not. He will weep this way eternally,
ever with this dark sea, this lost salty sea, this rolling big sea,
that’s him, aright, yes him…there is no land in sight. He’s lost.


Mental illness is a terrible burden both for the individual and the family, but especially when it is possible to see through the facade of the disease into the beauty of the mind and soul lost beneath the affliction.

Thank you for reading Schizophrenia. I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain, and as always, I look forward to your comments.

The photograph was taken from Gay Head point, Martha’s Vineyard island, Massachusetts. For more photography, please visit the Book of Bokeh.


Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use or reproduction in any way, unless so granted in writing by the copyright owner.


Filed under Poetry

Ian Hamilton’s ‘In Dreams’

To live like this:
One hand in yours, the other
Murderously cold; one eye
Pretending to watch over you,
The other blind.
We live in dreams:
These sentimental afternoons,
These silent vows,
How we would starve without them.

John Benjamin of The Bully Pullpit (an excellent social commentary and human reflective blog, by the way—highly, highly recommended) suggested that one of my poems, My Epitaph, reminded him of the Hamilton poem Biography. (Having since read that poem I am red cheeked that anyone would favorably put one of my works in the same sentence with it.) What a compliment…thank you again, John!

In any event, intrigued—since Ian Hamilton was not a poet I was familiar with—I ordered his Collected Poems from Amazon. (Sadly, it is no longer in print, but luckily, I was able to score one of the few paperbacks available on the afters market.)


And what a treasure this little volume of poetry is! Hamilton’s output was small; at one point he characterizes it as ’50 poems in 25 years’ although by the end of his too short, cut-by-cancer life he had written a few dozen more. But still, although a small output, it is a major one: each poem is a finely faceted jewel, beautifully and painfully wrought from the purest sense of intensity and human emotion. I am in awe of his ability to see so close and so honestly to the heart of a matter and to allude to it so quickly, yet sum it up so perfectly.

His was not an easy life. I’ll let you read the details via the Wikipedia link, but suffice it to say that I believe this poem In Dreams was written about dealing with the mental illness of his first wife.

As to his standing as a poet, I am not even sure that he would have even characterized himself, at least at first, as a poet. He is better known as a critic, editor and biographer. But surely the proof is in the work itself. His poems may be few in number and they may all be brief in character, but they are simply exquisite in composition. There are other poets of the second half of the 20th century who were more famous in their lifetimes than Ian Hamilton, but none were better and none deserve more fame than he, as we continue on into the 21st century.

This will be the first of a few of his poems that I will present to show more of his genius. But I highly recommend you finding, if you can, your own copy of his Collected Poems. It is so well worth the effort!

Thank you for reading Ian Hamilton’s ‘In Dreams’. 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