The Heart and The Healer: A Soulful Poem


Today the brain has become the centre of all research and attention. It is declared part of our personality, consciousness, and memory. However, before the brain was set at this pedastel, it was the heart that had the spotlight.

Though the attention has been shifted in the scientific field, the heart continues it fame and auro in the emotional and spiritual genre. There are various emtaphors related to the heart and healing of the heart that have been used for generations now. People have ‘Heart of Gold’, they ‘Wear Their Heart on their Sleeves’, they have ‘Heart to Heart Conversation’ and much more.

History of the Heart

The ancient Greeks believed that humans have a cardiocentric body. The beating of the heart was an indication of life, so for 2000 years we have the image of the body as entirely driven by heart.

Early Chinese pictographs for the word heart.
Early Chinese pictographs for the word heart.

The use of heart as a metaphor has been constant, but it has been used to depict different interests and priorities in different culture. It is believed that the similar usage of the heart metaphor is linked to common origin of knowledge and not to a universal human experience.

As the heart was becoming objectified, you’ve got the rise of the Romantic poets who reinforced the idea that there was something very heartfelt about what lurks in our chest.

An image from The Book of the Dead showing Anubis the jackal headed god conducting the ceremony of weighing the heart against a feather, representing righteous truth. From the Wellcome Collection with permission.
An image from The Book of the Dead showing Anubis the jackal headed god conducting the ceremony of weighing the heart against a feather, representing righteous truth.

Presently it is shocking to know that the Oxford English Dictionary has 15000 entry for the word heart, most of which relate to its use as a metaphor for emotional states, reasoning and other meanings such as the centre of places and things or the central point in an argument.

Healing in Literature:

In the much-loved book ‘Beloved’ Tony Morris believes that the human body is the secret to joy, happiness, and self-respect. She mentions

Love your heart. For this is the prize

After almost a decade William James shows how our body impacts our feelings

A purely disembodied human emotion is a nonentity

Though a lot has been mentioned metaphorically, there is still so much to know about the relationship between the body and the soul in actual Biology.

When we talk of metaphors, there has been one particular organ of the human body which has for ages been given metaphorical meaning. It is the sole genesis of feelings, love, emotions, and more.

Though the scientists have proved that the soul does not reside in the heart, we continue to use the metaphor.

A Soulful Poem on Heartbreaks

Christy Ducker, a poet, and teacher of creative writing collaborate with Kate Sweeney, a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside to write a soulful script of the heart. This poem talks about the science organ Heart and the metaphorical heart. This was part of the UK Edition of Messenger, a collection of Ducker’s poems on ‘How we Wound and How we Heal’

A Scientist Advice on Healing

Try to accept
this fat red hurt
is your starting point,
in the way, a pen must be put to paper
     in one particular spot,

then move

the globby flap
of blame
     and past
          the mono-sulk
               of pain.

Change the subject,
before it’s too late.
Sketch out
what health
you do possess,
what signal-cascades,
what flotilla of cells
circumnavigate you,

then draw yourself back
     together again,
in a language
     of your own.

Your body’s talk
is loose as lymph —
it’ll have you open out
     as a tree,
or sneak up on pain
     as assassin,
     or wolf.

Encourage this
for healing won’t come at you
Embrace the lack of heroics —
this isn’t Hollywood,
it’s you,
in a plot
that may
or may not resolve.

The Messenger delves into the science of immunology to see how humans injure and heal. Christy Ducker’s short poetry offer “hope and a warning” whether the subject is a single molecule or a global issue. Messenger swings between science and art to present alternative ways of looking about healing, using arresting pictures by Kate Sweeney.

Katharine Towers Mentions

We may only be ‘gangs of cells’ but in Christy Ducker’s alert and lyrical poems such physical actualities are only the beginning of a fascinating journey into the mysteries of who we are and what we really amount to. The language of medicine is not used for its novelty but to bring precision and clarity to her vivid investigations of pain, loss, and survival. These are poems that can startle and move and in which language brings us to understandings that hold their own alongside those offered by science.


Language is a system built on shared understanding of meanings within a culture; we can understand the meaning of heart metaphors because we can readily adapt to our changing culture. We can comprehend the meaning of heart metaphors because we can quickly adjust to our changing society. Language It is a different matter whether we agree or disapprove of those cultural changes, but it is not one that can be blamed on the heart. Don’t take the metaphor literally.

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