Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 397–399 | Cite as

Camus at Seventeen: The Arduous Road through Oran

  • Woods NashEmail author

“It isn’t I who give up beings and things (I could not); it’s the things and the beings who have given me up. My youth escapes me; that is being ill.”

“You can cure yourself if you want to.” –Albert Camus

Then the coughing began,

consumptive, a rattle and thrust

in the decrepit flat

beside the Mediterranean.

Growing up in poverty

in Algiers, never knowing

his father, he groaned

in an unfeeling apartment

with no books.

Soccer was his passion,

and in it he excelled,

though he harbored a taste

for Sophocles, for strength

and tragedy. Then, diagnosed,

he was bedridden for months,

weak-lunged and banished

from sport—the source,

he later confessed, of all

he ever learned of ethics: to trust

his teammates, stepping calmly

and fully conscious, the ball

revolving at his feet.

Floating scant and ghastly

in a fog of tuberculosis,

he fought for courage

that would carry him

into the common years

of bleeding articles

and the weathered suitcase

of failed love.

Already, he was pestered

by the...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics, The University of Texas Medical SchoolHoustonUSA

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