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William Jewell College

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Liberty, MO 64068

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"The Hospital Window" by James L. Dickey: A Video Project by Elise Villarreal

Artist's Statement:

   My music video approach put “The Hospital Window” by James Dickey in motion by turning the words from ink on a page to a living production, that to my audience, is something to view and gain new perspective from. For me, filming and traveling was an experience, my life was transformed for a few days into the moment of this man, grieving at the fact that his father is dying. I chose a video project for the exact purpose I just stated, I became the man. The most amazing part was the realization that although this poem, in real time lasts but a few moments, it allows its readers to live in it for so much longer.

   I hope my audience has a different perception of “The Hospital Window” after watching my video from when they simply read the poem. As a photographer, I naturally pay attention to minute details when I shoot, something I did in the creation of this project. Although, when working off a piece of art as articulate as a poem, it is even more imperative to play with those details and make them exciting for the viewer to pay attention to; the hope is that they do. This project revealed to me just how much stimuli we ignore, as readers, as listeners, and carers of others. This poem opened my eyes to the concept that each second of life holds somebody or something that is trying to tell us something, if we wouldn’t tune out or turn down these moments that encompass the meaning of life, and that life is not dreadful, and you deserve to pay attention to it. I think all poems hold some element of that truth, but the ones that we can relate to really reveal things to us that are otherwise overlooked.

The Hospital Window


I have just come down from my father.

Higher and higher he lies

Above me in a blue light

Shed by a tinted window.

I drop through six white floors

And then step out onto pavement.


Still feeling my father ascend,

I start to cross the firm street,

My shoulder blades shining with all

The glass the huge building can raise.

Now I must turn round and face it,

And know his one pane from the others.


Each window possesses the sun

As though it burned there on a wick.

I wave, like a man catching fire.

All the deep-dyed windowpanes flash,

And, behind them, all the white rooms

They turn to the color of Heaven.


Ceremoniously, gravely, and weakly,

Dozens of pale hands are waving

Back, from inside their flames.

Yet one pure pane among these

Is the bright, erased blankness of nothing.

I know that my father is there,


In the shape of his death still living.

The traffic increases around me

Like a madness called down on my head.

The horns blast at me like shotguns,

And drivers lean out, driven crazy—

But now my propped-up father


Lifts his arm out of stillness at last.

The light from the window strikes me

And I turn as blue as a soul,

As the moment when I was born.

I am not afraid for my father—

Look! He is grinning; he is not


Afraid for my life, either,

As the wild engines stand at my knees

Shredding their gears and roaring,

And I hold each car in its place

For miles, inciting its horn

To blow down the walls of the world


That the dying may float without fear

In the bold blue gaze of my father.

Slowly I move to the sidewalk

With my pin-tingling hand half dead

At the end of my bloodless arm.

I carry it off in amazement,


High, still higher, still waving,

My recognized face fully mortal,

Yet not; not at all, in the pale,

Drained, otherworldly, stricken,

Created hue of stained glass.

I have just come down from my father.

Poem Source: