life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life

words of heart

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What does it mean? Lord knows; least of all I.

Faced with it, schoolboys are shy,
And grown-ups speak it at moments of excess
Which later seem more or less
Unfeasible. It is equivocal, sentimental,
Debatable, really a sort of lentil—
Neither pea nor bean. Sometimes it’s a muscle,
Sometimes courage or at least hustle,
Sometimes a core or center, but mostly it’s
A sound that slushily fits
The meters of popular songwriters without
Meaning anything. It is stout,
Leonine, chicken, great, hot, warm, cold,
Broken, whole, tender, bold,
Stony, soft, green, blue, red, white,
Faint, true, heavy, light,
Open, down, shallow, etc. No wonder
Our superiors thunder
Against it. And yet in spite of a million abuses
The word survives; its uses
Are such that it remains virtually indispensable
And, I think, defensible.
The Freudian terminology is awkward or worse,
And suggests so many perverse
Etiologies that it is useless; but “heart” covers
The whole business, lovers
To monks, i.e., the capacity to love in the fullest
Sense. Not even the dullest
Reader misapprehends it, although locating
It is a matter awaiting
Someone more ingenious than I. But given
This definition, driven
Though it is out of a poet’s necessity, isn’t
The word needed at present
As much as ever, if it is well written and said,
With the heart and the head?

An Apology for Using the Word ‘Heart’ in Too Many Poems in by Hayden Carruth

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