For My Father Falling Asleep at Saint Mary's Hospital
The impending death of his elderly father leads the narrator of this book-length poem back to the particular mystery of the sacramental self, the terror and the necessity of bearing witness. Walking emotionally exposed through the landscape of his father’s slow decline, his loneliness and the environment that surrounds him, Dennis Sampson reveals the experience of a son accompanying his father to the doors of death.
Sampson’s poems balance a line between an awareness of evil—a sense of overcrowding, futility—and the promise of the dawn. These powerful eulogies testify that the courage to die is matched only by the courage to remain with the dying.
Like this book? Sign up for occasional updates
Praise and Prizes
“In an era of handsomely written books of poetry largely about their own skill with language, it’s more than breathtaking to encounter a poet who writes for the most basic reason: because he has to.”
“Splendid . . . Anyone reading this book can learn how much courage, honesty, and humility can accompany the impending death and loss of a loved parent. . . . A great book of human tests and seminal resolutions.”
“There is an extraordinarily thoughtful mind at work here, with a spiritual underpinning that I find intensely moving. Dennis Sampson must not be overlooked.”
“There is a serene and dignified tone that pervades this book-length poem, a reverence so immediately striking that we sense we are entering hallowed territory. . . . Tender and skillfully understated, rich in image and catharsis, For My Father Falling Asleep at St. Mary’s Hospital is an excellent example of why we read and write.”
“An emotional blend of eulogy, meditation, memory, and testimony to the courage required to bear witness, For My Father Falling Asleep at St. Mary’s Hospital is profound in its emotion, attachment, and ponderance upon the impermanence of life. A deeply poignant and touching tribute.”