Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Joyas Volardores

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In one of my classes last semester, we read this gorgeous lyric essay, "Joyas Volardores," by Brian Doyle. Yesterday I taught it to my students, and they seemed to love it almost as much as I do. We read it out loud together, and this particular passage always makes me cry (my students are used to this, unfortunately). 
The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale. It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a room, with four chambers. A child could walk around it, head high, bending only to step through the valves. The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long. When this creature is born it is twenty feet long and weighs four tons. It is waaaaay bigger than your car. It drinks a hundred gallons of milk from its mama every day and gains two hundred pounds a day, and when it is seven or eight years old it endures an unimaginable puberty and then it essentially disappears from human ken, for next to nothing is known of the the mating habits, travel patterns, diet, social life, language, social structure, diseases, spirituality, wars, stories, despairs and arts of the blue whale. There are perhaps ten thousand blue whales in the world, living in every ocean on earth, and of the largest animal who ever lived we know nearly nothing. But we know this: the animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs, and their penetrating moaning cries, their piercing yearning tongue, can be heard underwater for miles and miles.
Every inch of this essay is just as beautiful. Read it now and see for yourself. 

1 comment:

  1. I first read this essay as a senior in high school (it was on one of my final English exams). It's absolutely beautiful...
    For me, this is the most touching part from the essay

    "So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one in the end—not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. "