sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 2, 2007

fighting heart disease with poetry
posted by soe 8:29 pm

Last year Reya at Grace’s Poppies put a call out for bloggers to publish poetry on Feb. 2. This year Deborah at Roots Down suggested we continue the tradition. I’m still trying to get out of December, so it was with some surprise that I stumbled across the fact that today is the day at Amanda’s blog at Clothesknit.

Suzanne at Luscious Fibers reminds me that I am remiss in multiple categories of blogging responsibility because today is Go Red for Women Day, when the American Heart Association hopes to raise awareness of the fact that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Not only did I not wear red today but I also don’t have any red photos posted online yet where I can link to them.

I work in health literacy and lost my paternal grandmother to heart disease, so I’m particularly upset about the latter slip.

So I figured I’d better tie them together in some way.

Believe it or not, I can do it.

I found this article, published two years ago by the American Physiological Society: “Reading Hexametric Rhyme Supports Cardiac Synchronization, Especially After A Heart Attack.”

The gist of the study is that European scientists found that by reading poetry written in dactylic hexameter aloud helps resynchronize your heart beat, particularly after a heart attack. Cool, huh? (Dactylic hexameter is poetry in which each line can be divided into seven sections that have an accented syllable followed by two unaccented syllable — BUM ba ba, BUM ba ba.)

Unfortunately, hexameter is hard to come by in English (we prefer pentameter, the rhythm of Shakespeare) and dactylic hexameter even harder. Those who wrote in it, tend, like Homer and Virgil, to have used it for long poems that are not condusive to replication in a blog post. Longfellow wrote “Evangeline,” a booklength poem in it, for example.

Since I cannot offer you a morsel that will protect your heart, I will instead offer you one that speaks to why it matters:

~ Grace Paley

Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face

how did this happen
well that’s who I wanted to be

at last       a woman
in the old style       sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt       grandchild sliding
on       off my lap       a pleasant
summer perspiration

that’s my old man across the yard
he’s talking to the meter reader
he’s telling him the world’s sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth       I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa       ask him
to sit beside me for a minute       I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips

Category: arts,politics. There is/are 2 Comments.

very sweet…i love that last sentence!

Comment by amanda 02.02.07 @ 11:13 pm

I somehow missed this post the first time around.

That poem is wonderful – I love the last bit –
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips”


Comment by Jenn 02.06.07 @ 7:57 am