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Poet Michael Symmons Roberts explores the myriad metaphors that we use to describe the character of the human heart.

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts explores the myriad metaphors that we use to describe the character of the human heart.

"The heart, for all its messy truth as a bruise-coloured loosely fist-shaped pump, has been transformed into one of the most potent metaphors in our culture," he says as he reflects on its ubiquitous presence as a "stylised cordate shape with two smooth curves at the top and a point at the base".

But, of course, it is so much more than that, as it is described as the home of so many of our emotions good and bad, and the seat of loyalty, commitment and love. Michael explains that he "can't help but associate it with longing, with yearning. ...because after all yearning, stirring, longing, well... that's what hearts do".

With poetry from John Donne, Rita Dove and EE Cummings, and the music of Beethoven, Handel and the Ink Spots, Michael reflects on what it means to learn "by heart" and the power of a beating heart as a continual reminder of the physical and the incarnational. He concludes that "whether it's concerned with our relationships with each other or with God, the metaphor of the heart is inescapable".

Presenter: Michael Symmons Roberts
Producer: Michael Wakelin
A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Music Played

  • George Frideric Handel

    My Heart is Indicting

    Performer: The Choir of King’s College Cambridge, English Chamber Orchestra.
    • Coronation Anthems.
    • Decca.
  • Billie Holiday

    Says My Heart

    • The Legacy: 1933-1958.
    • Columbia.
  • The Ink Spots

    I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire

    • The White Cliffs of Dover (CD1).
    • Good Music/MCA.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    My Heart Ever Faithful

    Performer: Nicholas Fletcher & The Southwell Minster Choir.
    • Come, Come, My Voice.
    • Lammas.
  • William Walton

    Set Me As a Seal Upon Your Heart

    Performer: Oliver LePage-Dean, Edward Lyon, Choir of St. John’s College Cambridge.
    • Love and Marriage: Classical Music for Your Wedding.
    • Naxos Special Projects.

Readings


 

Title:                A Birthday

Author:            Christina Rosetti        

Publisher:        Penguin

 

Title:                Heart to Heart

Author:            Rita Dove

Publisher:        W.W. Norton

 

Title:                History, Medicine and Emotion

Author:            Fay Bound Alberti

Publisher:        Oxford University Press

 

Title:                This Mortal Coil: The Human Body in History and Culture

Author:            Fay Bound Alberti

Publisher:        Oxford University Press

 

Title:                (I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry It In]

Author:            E.E Cummings

Publisher:        Complete Poems

 

Title:                Holy Sonnets: Batter My Heart, Three Person’d God

Author:            John Donne

Publisher:        Penguin

 

Title:                Sonnet 133: Beshrew That Heart That Makes My Heart to Groan

Author:            William Shakespeare

Publisher:        Penguin

 

Title:                Song of Solomon 8:6

Author:            King James Bible

Publisher:        HarperCollins

 

 

Title:                Evidence

Author:            Wendy Cope

Publisher:        Faber and Faber

 


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