My other life: Andrew Motion
Writers reveal their fantasy careers
Sunday 19 April 2009
If I wasn't a writer? A doctor, of course. Keats in reverse. And for the same reasons that Keats was keen to remind us Apollo was the god of medicine as well as poetry. Poetry heals us because its challenges, consolations, comforts and commendations help to make us whole; medicine cures us with surgery and pills and therapies. If poetry were to leave me, or had never come in the first place, there would be no alternative.
What kind of doctor, though? I don't know how squeamish I am because I've never tested it; I suspect elements of my country childhood, skinning rabbits and whatnot, may stand me in good stead. So maybe a surgeon wouldn't be out of the question. I'd certainly be interested in the hi-tech end of things.
On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to be a GP. That way, I might feel more in the swim of ordinary life. If I could see, in the eyes of my patients, the gleam of gratitude I've often felt for my doctor when he's sorted me out, I'd be able to lie down at the end of the day feeling, in Keats's phrase, I'd chosen a path which allowed me to "[do] the world some good".
• Andrew Motion is the poet laureate