I love the way the poet in the MRI scanner sees himself being ‘scanned’ in the same way that he ‘scans’ his poetry.  Great fun and very clever.  (And by the way, when he got the results from his scan he was fine).

How To Scan A Poet

My doctor tells me I will need a scan;

I tap a nervous rhythm with my feet,

‘Just count to five’, she says, ‘and then sit down.


The gist of it is printed on this sheet,

So read it over when you are at home.

We’ll have a clearer picture when we meet’.


I read the letter in a waiting room,

It’s language strangely rich for one like me

Image, Contrast, Resonance; a poem


Slips into view amidst the litany

Of Latin terms that make our medicine

A new poetic terminology.


The door is opened. I am ushered in

To lisp my list of symptoms, to rehearse

The undiscovered art of naming pain.


‘Its called deep inspiration, says the nurse,

‘Draw deep for me then simply hold your breath

And stay composed.’ So I compose this verse.


She says ‘We dye for contrast, to unearth

Each hidden image, which might bring

Some clue that takes us closer to the truth.


Be still and I will pass you through the ring,

Three passes, all in rhythm, and you’re free,

The resonance will show us everything’

Be still and I will pass you through the ring

And now my Muse says much the same to me,

Scanning these lines, and calling me to sing.

(by Malcolm Guite)


8 thoughts on “HOW TO SCAN A POET

  1. Hi Gill, sorry to bother you, I couldn’t find an email on your blog so had to leave a message here. Would you mind emailing me when you get a chance, my email address is on my blog, with that lovely place you stayed in outside Rome, hubs and I are hoping to visit in a couple of weeks and that accommodation sounds perfect for us. I don’t know if the elderly couple are still taking in tourists? I also remember you saying something about train tickets? Would appreciate your advice. Thanks, Dina. xxx


  2. That pic shows a very up-to-date piece of kit, Gilly.
    I like the rhythm of the poem, it reads like a rap.
    The musings suggest the writer was in a light-hearted daze, if such a description is possible. I wonder where else the muse is going.
    Good news about the outcome.

    I have been thinking about you quite a lot. How are you?


    1. Guite is particularly good at paradox and imagery, I think. Yes, I’m fine – thanks for asking, how kind. We’re now back home permanently with Daughter 3 remarried, and picking up the threads of retirement life again. How’s yourself? Feet behaving ?


      1. I’ve just found your reply in my ‘reader’. I do not know why, but I am not being notified of comments from a number of people.

        Foot is good thanks, a digit occasionally reminds me it is there, especially if I play at being Cinderella with footwear that suggests it might be right.


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