The Body: Beauty and Anatomy

While Amanda, JC and I were meeting about camp and discussing perceptions of the body, ranging from the artistic to the anatomical, I mentioned a poem by Czech poet and immunologist Miroslav Holub, whose poem “What the Heart is Like” encompasses several ways of perceptions of the heart. Here it is:

Officially the heart
is oblong, muscular,
and filled with longing.

But anyone who has painted the heart knows
that it is also

spiked like a star
and sometimes bedraggled
like a stray dog at night
and sometimes powerful
like an archangel’s drum.

And sometimes cube-shaped
like a draughtsman’s dream
and sometimes gaily round
like a ball in a net.

And sometimes like a thin line
and sometimes like an explosion.

And in it is
only a river,
a weir
and at most one little fish
by no means golden.

More like a grey

It certainly isn’t noticeable
at first sight.

Anyone who has painted the heart knows
that first he had to
discard his spectacles,
his mirror,
throw away his fine-point pencil
and carbon paper

and for a long while


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