Philip Hodgins and Michael Dransfield

Here we look at the medicine-related work of two young Australians who became successful poets but died young.

 Philip HodginsAn EducationApologiesThe Change', stanza 2)


(*Rainer Maria Rilke, Poet, born Prague 1875)



Michael DransfieldConsider: This last fragment is typical of much of his work in that he is very distant from himself. Would this have given us a clue that he might be suicidal? 

This next poem is complete: what clinical signs does it suggest to you? 


It is waking in the night,

after the theatres and before the milkman,

alerted by some signal from the golden drug tapeworm

that eats your flesh and drinks your peace;

you reach for the needle and busy yourself

preparing the utopia substance in a blackened

spoon held in candle flame

by now your thumb and finger are leathery

being so often burned this way

it hurts much less than withdrawal and the hand

is needed for little else now anyway.

Then cordon off the arm with a belt,

probe for a vein, send the dream-transfusion out

on a voyage among your body machinery. Hits you like


sweet, illusory, fast, with a semblance of forever.

For while the fires die down in you,

until you die down in the fires.

Once you have become a drug addict

you will never want to be anything else.


Consider: References and Further Reading

updated: 22/03/2010