“The human body is the best picture of the human soul.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein
“My relationship with my body has changed. I used to consider it as a servant who should obey, function, give pleasure. In sickness you realize that you are not the boss. It is the other way round.” — Federico Fellini
Midweek Motif ~ Poetry about the Body
How do we view the image of our body? Do we see it with the eye of the media / advertisement / anyone apart from our own self or is it I am seeing my own body?
The artists of both ancient and modern world paid great homage to the human body in their art and sculpture. No less, the modern writers, in their words.
Sing about this human body.
Sing about this human body.
Here is Walt Whitman in his nine part poem I Sing the Body Electric:
I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?
The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.
The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.
The sprawl and fulness of babes, the bosoms and heads of women, the folds of their dress, their style as we pass in the street, the contour of their shape downwards,
The swimmer naked in the swimming-bath, seen as he swims through the transparent green-shine, or lies with his face up and rolls silently to and fro in the heave of the water,
The bending forward and backward of rowers in row-boats, the horseman in his saddle,
Girls, mothers, house-keepers, in all their performances,
The group of laborers seated at noon-time with their open dinner-kettles, and their wives waiting,
The female soothing a child, the farmer’s daughter in the garden or cow-yard,
The young fellow hoeing corn, the sleigh-driver driving his six horses through the crowd,
The wrestle of wrestlers, two apprentice-boys, quite grown, lusty, good-natured, native-born, out on the vacant lot at sun-down after work,
The coats and caps thrown down, the embrace of love and resistance,
The upper-hold and under-hold, the hair rumpled over and blinding the eyes;
The march of firemen in their own costumes, the play of masculine muscle through clean-setting trowsers and waist-straps,
The slow return from the fire, the pause when the bell strikes suddenly again, and the listening on the alert,
The natural, perfect, varied attitudes, the bent head, the curv’d neck and the counting;
Such-like I love—I loosen myself, pass freely, am at the mother’s breast with the little child,
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, count.
(Rest of the poem is here)
Here are some links to some wonderful poetry on the theme:
Old Man Leaves Party by Mark Strand
My Mother’s Body by Marge Piercy
Anodyne by Yusef Komunyakaa
homage to my hips by Lucille Cliffton
Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community—
(Next week Susan’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Psyche / Soul)