Now that Mars in Leo stations direct in the year of the Tiger, things move forward with a roar. You can put out a saucer of milk if you like, but a bloody slab of meat might yield better results.
Emily also wants to ponder this business of eating and feeding.
#1355, c. 1876
The Mind lives on the Heart
Like any Parasite —
If that is full of Meat
The Mind is fat.
But if the Heart omit
Emaciate the Wit —
The Aliment of it
The first time I read this, I thought the word in the second to last line was “ailment” not “aliment”. Very different. In my mistaken reading, the Wit grows sick. In the second reading, the one Emily intended, the Mind starves from lack of food from the Heart. So completely does the Mind depend on the Heart’s nourishment that when deprived of it—following the logical progression suggested by the word “aliment”—the Mind or Wit (now a starved parasite) detaches its hold and moves down the alimentary canal, the intestines, etc., to depart the body through an ignoble exit . . . like any piece of turd.
What a thorough condemnation of intellect uninformed by emotional intelligence. Emily says it’s just shit. Next time somebody wants to characterize her as a decorous Lady Poet, please point that reader toward this poem.
She arranges the power dynamics so that the heart stands above the mind in the hierarchy of who is in charge of what. Not only does the mind depend on the heart to keep it alive, but the heart may, if it chooses, slough off this weaker thing. If the heart grows weary of supporting this parasite, the host may withdraw its food/love, thus starving out the intruder. In such an arrangement, the mind better behave itself, not get too fat or burdensome to this bountiful muscle of heart.
Emily’s hierarchy of power that puts heart above mind is a direct subversion of the stuff I am reading in Plato’s Symposium lately. At times, I grow impatient with this Platonic elevation of the mind without really knowing why. Difficult to articulate how this writing makes me feel boxed in. Something is missing from these lofty perorations on love. In Plato’s dialogues, of course, the element most often missing is the presence of women. Also missing is all that women would most likely bring to a discussion on love, which is that they’re really not all that interested in a discussion of love. That’s like discussing dance or food or sex. You’re kinda missing the point, if you’re discussing it. That’s how it feels when the heart meets too much emphasis on the mind. When something essential has been diminished, then the heart will exercise its superior power to rid itself of the offenders, which can feel like an earthquake. If we are not able to understand this by reading poems, then the earth itself will show us.
2 responses to “Mind Lives On the Heart”
loved LOVED this one! keep it coming.
wine? you gave up wine? hell, why not give up breathing while you are at it? brave soul. I admire you, always!