On (partial) blindness

When I consider how to represent
my sixth of working light, my words collide
with your fear of dark. Your visions hide
the blindness born with me. You mourned sight sent
before you into death. Let me invent
a new account–half- light to place beside
your grief, the beauty of blind life denied.
I’d rather exploration than lament
sight as lost paradise. So my poems need
to make a sense I’m neither banned nor blessed
but breathing here. I want to have my state
revealed so thousand at my bidding read
as I eat, sleep, kiss, swear, get children dressed.
I feel and write. I do not stand and wait.


Nuala Watt is a poet from Glasgow with a PhD on the poetics of partial sight. She is a member of the Scottish Poetry Library Board. This is her 21st century response to Milton’s poem, probably one of the best known dealing with blindness.

What comes across strongly is Watt’s courage and commitment to lead a full life, to explore the world despite her partial sight.

There is no resignation or self pity here.

Our patients with sight problems are all different.

How do we find out in clinics and in practices what matters to them in their lives, so that we can address their needs of medical services?

The eye chart is familiar to all doctors. It offers a simple rapid way of assessing visual acuity. But how do patients relate to it?

Here is one take by Glasgow poet Nuala Watt: Patients have different ways of seeing our clinical world!

More info

  • Watt, Nuala.  Dialogue on the dark.  pp28.Calderwood Press, Dunbar. 2015
  • Poems by Nuala Watt
  • Post on Milton’s poem can be found here

Contributed by

John Gillies

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