Heart To Heart

Heart to Heart is a poem written by American contemporary poet Rita Dove. The poem’s premise is simple and harkens back to the title; it’s all about the poet’s heart. Dove paints an intricate picture of her own heart for the reader. “It doesn’t have a tip to spin on,”. She uses metaphors and symbolism to describe her heart and how it works, and how the sensations resonating from the clump of muscle in her chest affect her. “it isn’t even shapely— just a thick clutch of muscle, lopsided, mute”.

It’s neither red
nor sweet.
It doesn’t melt
or turn over,
break or harden,
so it can’t feel
pain,
yearning,
regret.
It doesn’t have
a tip to spin on,
it isn’t even
shapely—
just a thick clutch
of muscle,
lopsided,
mute. Still,
I feel it inside
its cage sounding
a dull tattoo:
I want, I want
but I can’t open it:
there’s no key.
I can’t wear it
on my sleeve,
or tell you from
the bottom of it
how I feel. Here,
it’s all yours, now—
but you’ll have
to take me,
too.

The way this poem is set out differs from the other poems I have used in this project. It is the shortest of the bunch, although appears to be longer because of the choppy way the lines are set out. The poem consists of two short stanzas, and possesses a very staccato feeling, each line stopping mid sentence and proceeding and finishing in the line below. The language Dove uses can, at first glance, seem quite simple and possibly even a little flat. However, she relies not on entangled words and detailed description with vastly varied language, she instead relies on the use of symbolism, comparing her own heart to various inanimate objects which at first seem to have nothing to do with the human heart, but as the poem continues, every comparison makes more and more sense, like piece fitting together in a jigsaw puzzle.

I decided to use this poem because the other three poems I was using were all classical literature, and I thought that I needed to take a break from that and inject something more modern into the mix. I originally was stuck for ideas on what this poem was to be, but after some research on various poetry websites and databases, I stumbled across this poem, which I instantly fell in love with. I liked how the poem was short and sweet, but also portrayed a clear message and gave me an insight to the poet’s own feelings on love, romance, and desire. I also really liked how this poem managed to take inanimate objects (which shouldn’t be romantic) and turned them into metaphors and symbols for the complicated emotions of love and fondness in the human heart. The poem starts off very matter-of-fact, with the poet stating the similarities in her heart to actions inanimate objects perform, and ends on a very heartfelt, yet quite sad line. “Here, it’s all yours, now— but you’ll have to take me, too.” It’s a line that reads as quite melancholy, as if the poet has come across problems and love-loss in regards to these circumstances before.

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