Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe on the Heart
“All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is all my own.”
— Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Poems About Emotions and Feelings
Is there a more common topic of poetry than emotions and feelings? No. At its root, poetry is a literary expression of emotion. Poetry is to writing as a kiss is to touch.
"How I love thee. Let me count the ways."
No other form of writing expresses love, sadness, beauty, anger, and other feelings more profoundly than poetry.
Its cadence allures. It's thoughtful. It's enigmatic. Sometimes, it even rhymes, which multiplies its mystique.
So what could be more natural to the poet than penning a poem about emotions and feelings?
Thinking vs Feeling
Emotions Make the Man, or Woman
Naturally, as every person thinks, so every person feels emotion. Yet the similarity ends there. Far more varied are our inner selves than our outward appearances.
Your emotional identity, the complex network of feelings and emotions you experience, is as unique to you as your fingerprints. You may laugh at something that disgusts me. I may cheer at something that saddens you. Not only do we feel different emotions in the same situation, but the intensity varies too.
Thus, your emotions are an integral part of your personality. By muffling an inner cry, are you mastering you emotion, or fleeing your particular personhood?
This poem explores the relationship between our emotions and identities, and ponders who we would be without them.
Helen Keller on Feeling
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”
— Helen Keller
Who Am I, Without Emotion?
Childhood: a time of jubilant exhilaration,
And dejected melancholy,
And every emotion between them,
In response to minor happenings.
Emotion is the sincerest language.
As the child grows,
They teach him to control his emotions,
To harness his outbursts,
To temper his sorrows,
To quiet his exclamations,
To calm his glee.
In so doing he suppresses his most honest forms of expression,
And he loses the pure experience of their genuine excitation.
These observances display his soul.
They reveal glimpses of his deepest thoughts,
And reflect his inner man.
Is he the same without them?
Who am I, without emotion?
Mature sensibilities dictate that he control his emotions,
Since unconstrained emotional exhibition leads to enslavement
By those same emotions.
Then the possessor becomes the possessed,
For wild horses gallop unbridled,
Trampling the ground with sharp, undiscerning hooves.
Likewise, a warm and comforting campfire can devour a forest
With unquenchable flame.
Yet, by abbreviating his emotions,
Does he not also distance himself from himself?
By denying his emotions,
And their straightforward declarations,
Does he not also deny himself?
Doesn't he divide his personality in two parts:
The deepest, truest self,
And the public image, society's citizen?
Can I honestly assert, "It's funny", without laughing?
If I laugh, it proves me.
If I laugh louder and harder, for longer, then you know who I am.
You can measure the depth of my being by my intensity.
If the sorrow pierces my heart, but I tear silently,
You can dismiss that weak, diluted imitation of me.
If I cry more dismally,
Or plead more desperately,
Or rage more angrily,
Then you know who I am.
Who am I, without emotion?
Judith Wright on Emotions
"Feelings or emotions are the universal language and are to be honored. They are the authentic expression of who you are at your deepest place."
— Judith Wright
Is There a Difference Between Emotions and Feelings?
Current views in psychology theorize that "emotions" and "feelings" are separate and distinct from one another. I use these words interchangeably, as writers and poets have done for hundreds of years. Trying to isolate emotions from feelings, as if it were chemistry, is like trying to weigh imagination or calculate the magnetism of true love.
Emotions and feelings come from a secret place. Outsiders cannot venture there without your leading. Even then, they see in as a passerby peers through a window, whereas you experience them as the resident who lives in that house.
We ought not serve our feelings, for they can beguile and mislead. However, they are given to us as color to the sky, and salt to the ocean. They flavor the recipe for your individual experience in this world and, without them, the result would be bland.
© 2021 Stephen Ratay