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The World Now—& You

Reverend Wayne Plumstead Comments

  • Writer's pictureWayne Plumstead

"Amiable Thoughts for Someone in a Hospital"

From the first moment I read it in Eli Siegel's 1957 volume of collected poetry, Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems,* I simply loved his poem "Amiable Thoughts for Someone in a Hospital." In this poem, so profound and kind, Eli Siegel goes deeply within the feelings of a person who is in the hospital and worried about his or her health. The "amiable thoughts" in the poem's title are the author's hopes for a man or woman in such a situation. And the word amiable—meaning friendly—is certainly true: what is expressed in the poem is the height of friendliness.


As a pastor who has visited people in hospitals for many years, I have seen the myriad emotions a person in such a situation can have—including fear about the future, anger at being sick, and, in some instances, deep regret about the past. Here Mr. Siegel gives such kind direction to the thoughts of a person in a hospital, with the hope that they be a source of strength.


"Amiable Thoughts for Someone in a Hospital" meets people at their very center. As I have read the poem with parishioners during my hospital visits and we’ve talked about it, without exception they have become more composed and hopeful. I am grateful this poem exists and for the years of deep knowledge and assistance it has provided me in my work as a pastor.


Today, in the midst of a raging and frightening pandemic, our amiable thoughts are extended to include all of the valiant hospital and healthcare workers who for over two years now have been caring for an overwhelming onslaught of patients stricken with COVID. There are no words to adequately express how grateful we are to them or how deeply we respect their courage, compassion, and remarkable persistence. This poem's message is more pertinent than ever.


Amiable Thoughts for Someone in a Hospital A Poem of Aesthetic Realism

By Eli Siegel

May the things you say to yourself

Be the best for you.

May the things you hear from others

Be changed by you,

Be in you,

As the things best for yourself.

May remembrance of the past

Be your friend now.

May thoughts of the future

Be your friend now.

May you see everything you think of

As something which makes you stronger.

May life in bed

Be useful to you

For life everywhere.

May illness be great wellness,

As much as it can be;

And how much illness can be wellness

Has no end;

May be seen any moment;

May be and be.


* Siegel, Eli. Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems. (New York: Definition Press, 1957) "Amiable Thoughts for Someone in a Hospital" appears on pg. 24.

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