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The Doctor exhibited 1891 Sir Luke Fildes 1843-1927 Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894

Sir Luke Fildes
The Doctor 1891
Presented by Sir Henry Tate 1894
Available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported) licence

Doctor, do you hear

the terror in my broken tenor?


It is but a muffled, garbled

front for what,

set free, unaltered,

would shatter the very windows.

and with them, all these vials,

within which

my sick blood swirls.

And those thin panes of glass,

those right there before your eyes,

they too would crack and


and bring forth the blood and tears

from your eyes

that I soon expect

from my own.


You say this place

is full of death but I

am the only

one dying.

One hundred years

this moment has

filled, and

the icy

stretch of time,

it has swallowed all of me

and spit up sickly brine.

The bed has left me

numb, to drift

atop a listless sea,

distant from any light,

any memory.


An ounce more of strength and I

would strike you, Doctor,

across your silly smile.

And were I to gain my old

body back, I would

reach out, and

strike too at the sun,

put a hole in it, and sink it

just for fun.


would I turn to the great

deceiver, and

with murderous hands

around her throat

strangle her,

cruel hope.

At last, then, would I face

the seeming emptiness, and

release into its

gaping maw

my barbaric yawp.


Oh, what I would give to

switch souls

with another!

Not any man, no, but

a man with the strength yet

to take his own life, perhaps


some sweet poison.

Doctor, do me this favor-

turn my body over,

let me drown myself

with tears.

Have mercy,

kind Doctor, for

my own heart has betrayed me

and brought me

before you

in this wretched shape and



Ah, but already

there is new crying!


Do you hear it, Doctor?

The balancing of my

tragedy in another’s

triumph. There, I have no

more tears, they have fled

to the babe two

floors below.

It is alright, Doctor.

Come here, let us talk

of lives lived, of regrets

forgotten, of fearful

courage, of bittersweet

gratitude and of this moment

we now share.

Your presence suffices,

as does your

acknowledgement of what I

have known all along,

of what I have long feared,

and now face.

Be with me and

no more


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