What is the theme of the poem "An Apology for Using the Word 'Heart' in Too Many Poems"?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Carruth's poem elaborates and examines the overuse of the word "heart" in too many poems. Throughout the poem, Carruth explores the theme of the true meaning behind words, in particular the word "heart." The speaker explores the various, extensive uses of the word "heart" that people hear on an everyday basis. The definition of the word is rather ambiguous and equivocal. It could mean anything from the "core of something" to "courage." The speaker mentions that songwriters continually use the word "heart" in association with other words like "open" and "broken." Despite the overuse of the word, the speaker finds it indispensable because not one reader misunderstands the word. While using the word "heart" in a poem may seem rather cliche, it is at times necessary to convey a certain message. Readers immediately understand the connotation associated with the word "heart," and it is relatively straightforward given context.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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No doubt a student has read a poem in which the word death or heart appears many times. It seems to the student that poets only write about either love or death as if those are the only two emtions that humans have. This poem is the author's response to that assumption. This poem professes to be an “apology,” which might mean either a defense or an explanation of why the poet should regret using the word “heart” too often, with the possible promise not to use the word again. Most of the poem draws the reader’s attention to a variety of interpretations of the meaning of “heart,” with the climax of these definitions being reached in lines 27–28: “the capacity to love in the fullest / Sense.”