8th May 2018

Heart and Mind

Heart and Mind Book Response

The poem “heart and mind,” by Edith Sitwell embodies the endless debate between the qualities represented by the terms “Heart” and “Mind” or perhaps body and soul. Heart seems to be a symbol of the emotive and passionate side of humanity, and mind of the more cold, rational side. This is perhaps why the sun is associated with heart, while the cold moon is associated with the mind.this accurately reflects the minds setts of readers who either have a pessimistic realist point of view which represents the mind , versus an optimistic kind and loving nature of humans represented by the theme and subject of the heart. The themes heart and mind have a historic contrast and thus can be descriptively compared with one another which Sitwell has done excellently.

This poem begins with the lion speaking of death, he speaks of when the lioness will be “amber dust” clearly as in the phrase”dust to dust, ashes to ashes” which represents the death of the body. ”amber”links the colour of a lions pelt to the providing sun conveying a sense of Heart, Warmth, and kindness to the reader. In death the lioness will have left behind the passions of the body, like the heat.”no more a raging fire like the heat of the sun.” such passion is “all lust,” or “pure bodily desire”still the lion reflects, remembering what the best parts of their life in the body where; “remember still the flowering of the amber blood and bone” here flowering means the ultimate fulfilment of life in the body. Like a flower blossoming in spring. The blood and bone are that of the lion and its mortal life in the body. The repetition of amber connects it with the colour of the sun and hence the heat of passion nevertheless the phrase “blood and bone” a common fertilizer is clearly associated with the inevitable death of the body. The emotive language Sitwell has used in this stanza is clearly meant to trigger the readers’ memory and perhaps imagination to look back on a loved person who has died or to look forward and imagine the feelings the lion must be going through given his situation.


The lioness must also remember “the rippling of bright muscles like the sea” clearly the tensing and relaxing of large bundles of muscles beneath the skin of the living lion cause the skin to ripple like the waves of an ocean. Life in the body the passion of the heart is connected with the power of nature. though the thoughts in the lions’ imagination of inevitable death “though we shall mate no more” he remembers the rose-prickles of bright paws. In the passion of mating, the lion mounts the lioness and holds her with teeth and paws the claws of which are described to the reader clearly prick the skin and draw blood, hence the rose . the positive connotations of the rose suggest that the pain is intensely desired. Literally, muscles within the body cannot be “bright” nor can paws, thus the word is being used metaphorically. The fiery passion of the mating between big cats shares some of the qualities of the heat of the sun, symbolizing the raging fire of lust, soon to be extinguished leaving only the white moon-cold bones. the theme of inevitable death represented by the theme of the mind is overshadowed by the passion of the heart a simple yet meaningful message I believe Sitwell was attempting to convey. the lion does foresee a time when they shall again mate, perhaps when the met in the described afterlife, this gives the reader a brief sense of hope for the lions timeless love.


Edith Sitwell then adopts the metaphorical voice of the skeleton who lies upon the “sands of time.”

The skeleton speaks of “the great gold planet that, is mourning the heat of the sun.” metaphorically the great gold planet causes the heat of the sun, which brings life, but even as the sun rises in the morning it mourns, apparently of the fact that all things which live must die.on a more literal level, we may see the golden planet as the desert sands reaching to infinity warmed in vain by the sun’s heat. Thus it would appear that either the sun as the infinite image of an endless desert is greater than all gold possessions, greater the lion’s tawny body which even as it possesses desire and life ;even though it feels the fire of passion that’s consuming it’s own being the lion is ultimately a mortal being that will experience death at some point. Thus death consumes all that grows and as leaps.and the body becomes dust. this shows the reader that even though we all feel immortal at times through our life’s there will always be death around you and at some point, during your life, you will have to face death also this describes that no matter what sense of emotion you possess all people are mortal.


The heart, however, is more powerful than all dust. The skeleton claims to have been either Hercules, son of John, a mortal man who by his great deeds was ultimately received in heaven or Samson, the colossally strong who is then captured, blinded and chained up by the Philistines but his strength was enough to bring down the pillars supporting the hall that he was chained to, this shows to the reader that even heroes like this are consumed by the flames of the heart, while the mind is but a foolish wind. this reiterates to the reader that Sitwell message of the heart overpowering the mind.


The poet’s speaker now becomes the sun present in stanzas 1-3 addressing the moon present in stanza 2 where they are seen as opposites the moon-cold white bone contrasted with the fire of the sun. the sun speaks of their hopeless love, separated forever in the heavens. he imagines the moon as a lonely white crow “following his death, and sees himself romantically as a “king in the golden armor” lying “somewhere in a lust wood.

He points out that only at the very end of time when all things are resurrected will body and soul, mind, and heart work together to ensure the direct intellectual apprehension of God. The fire of the heat.the fire of the mind will be one. Spirit will no longer have to walk through the imperfect senses of the body perhaps it is only when cold rational mind and feeling empathetic heart work together that we can the whole truth about anything.          


Jay Sherlock

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