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
jealous
loach.

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
walk
outside.

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