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Featured Poem: The Frozen Heart by Robert Herrick

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 21st January 2019

The Reader's Learning and Quality Leader, Katie Clark, shares her thoughts on this week's Featured Poem, The Frozen Heart by Robert Herrick.

‘I freeze, I freeze’ may be a common cry at this time of year, but I’m interested in the effect this repetition has here at the start of this poem. How does it change the first line having that statement twice? Try reading it aloud both ways to get a sense of the difference it makes.

What would it feel like to have nothing dwelling in you ‘but snow and icicles’ I wonder? And how might that effect your outward demeanour. Do you think it is something that can be hidden or covered up? Or does the inside tell on the outside?

I’m wondering who he is talking to here, especially the line where he says:

For pity’s sake, give your advice

What do you think?

What do you make of the line ‘Nothing but love can supple me’? And then the turnaround from being prepared to ‘Drink down flames’ which feels dangerous, to preferring to ‘keep this frost and snow’ rather than accept the tonic of love. It makes me wonder why? What might have happened before this to cause the writer to feel this way? How has he come to be ‘frozen’ in the first place?

The end of the poem feels defiant, but I can’t help thinking about how much choice we really have over the state of our own hearts. Can we simply decide to close ourselves off to love, or can its warmth penetrate even the most solid frozen heart?

The Frozen Heart

I freeze, I freeze, and nothing dwells
In me but snow and icicles.
For pity's sake, give your advice,
To melt this snow and thaw this ice.
I'll drink down flames; but if so be
Nothing but love can supple me,
I'll rather keep this frost and snow
Than to be thaw'd or heated so.

by Robert Herrick

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