Achilles departure Eretria Painter CdM Paris 851

© Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons

Worn on the sleeve
or exposed at the heel,
	once the organ has surfaced
it is ready to bleed. Transfusion
will occur.


Following on from my experiment earlier this week with clichés, today’s verse explores idioms. It is also influenced by my current read – an engrossing book about ancient Rome and Jerusalem, in which the author mentions the influence of Ancient Greece a great deal. (For those who are interested the book is Martin Goodman’s “Rome & Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations.”)

In popular discourse Achilles’ heel features as metaphor for vulnerability. Similarly, to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve is to divulge emotional weakness, usually in the form of love. The poem started with an exploration of physical and emotional defencelessness. However, in researching for this post I was reminded that Achilles was a warrior. He was prone to anger and acted to avenge. He lived by the sword and died in combat. (In another version he is shot by the brother of a Trojan princess with whom he is in love, rather than perishing in battle.)

The heart is the seat of courage. Courage derives comes from the Middle English for the seat of feelings. We often think of the heart in connection with love and romance. We seldom think of the heart in connection with rage and the transfer of aggression or avenging slights. That belongs to idioms and clichés about blood (consider “his blood was boiling,” “there was bad blood between them” and “he was spitting blood”). In its quiet way, this poem explores the transfusion of both rage and of love; both of which reflect our lifeblood of passion and our vulnerability.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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