Love and Death

This week on my MOOC love is the theme, next week it will be death. Robert Burton, a 17th century clergyman and scholar, was discussed in relation to his description of love as a kind of sickness or madness, a commonly held view at the time.

Burton’s views on love melancholy ran to 194 pages in his book Anatomy of Melancholy

“The symptoms of the mind in lovers are almost infinite…they may be merry sometimes, yet most part love is a plague, a torture, a hell… full of variation, but most part irksome and bad… the Spanish Inquisition is not comparable to it.”

Richard Berlin’s poem paints a vivid picture of a broken heart…

Takostubo Cardiomyopathy

I’m reviewing a left ventriculography
from a man with chest pain, MI ruled out,
his wife dead for a post-crash hour.
The scan shows his cardiac apex
bulging with each beat, shaped
like a takotsubo, an octopus trap
a Japanese cardiologist recalled
from his childhood fishing village,
the scan just another broken heart’s
beaten down story of futility and resilience.
And I will say, “I am sorry for your loss,”
explain the image, reassure him
his heart muscle will recover in a week,
all the time wishing I could hug him
with eight strong arms instead of two.


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