Academic journal article The Hudson Review

A Dialogue between the Body and Soul

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

A Dialogue between the Body and Soul

Article excerpt

What but a Soul could have the wit

To build me up for Sin so fit?

So Architects do square and hew,

Green Trees that in the Forest grew.

-Andrew Marvell, "A Dialogue

Between the Soul and Body"

Body

I was too modest in those days.

I thought it took a soul to raise

a body up and warm its limbs,

the soul a forester who trims

and hews-yes, hacks down those like me

who greenly wait impassively.

But now researchers look in vain

for soul and find instead the brain,

that knot of cells that calculate

my chances for a meal or mate.

Soul

Granted, my jurisdiction's shrunk.

You walk without a household monk

to whisper canticles and threats.

Instead, your neurons place their bets

on curves of breast or biceps, tones

of voice, the drift of pheromones

across some real estate, a stash

of seed or mineral-some cash.

And guilt? The term's no longer in.

The neurons are immune to sin.

Body

Still superior, still the pose

of soulful intellect who knows. …

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