Echoing the Freudian will to pleasure and idea of pain avoidance, this poignant piece reflects on heart’s perilous pursuit of pleasure. It chronologically or preferentially, (due to the ambiguity of the term “first”) asks for pleasure, pain avoidance, methods to fight the pain, unconsciousness and finally death. It seems like a deep sorrow is embedded in this poem.

Michael Nyman · The Heart Asks Pleasure First

This track from the movie, The piano (1993) by Michael Nyman was inspired by this poem.

The poem, though is simple in paraphrase, remains profound through its many layers of meanings. The poem is an account of the whimsical heart and its transcendent journey through the 5 layers of neurosis. A phony will to pleasure takes a phobic, defensive pain avoidance. What follows is an impasse of pain killers. Then comes an implosive hibernation to withdraw into sleep, only to explode through the explosive. For, “death is an awakening”.

The poem is an electric current between the polarized poles of free will (The Heart asks pleasure first ) and determinism ( The will of its inquisitor). It entails in its brief lines a maturity, an acquisition of humility won through worn out years of life.

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