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Poetry Corner - The Heart of Theseus

The Delphian has introduced this poetry section so students may submit their original poems to be considered for publication. Submit poems up to 250 words to and

I’ve always been interested in paradoxes. One particular paradox that’s always caught my attention on a personal level was the dilemma of the Ship of Theseus. Briefly, the paradox poses the scenario: If you take a ship apart piece by piece, but replace each individual part, you will end up with a ship that had the same structure as the original but with entirely new parts. Is this ship the same ship, and if not, at what point did this ship lose its “sameness?” I like to think of this paradox in terms of human behavior; we, as humans, develop ourselves as we grow, and sometimes drastically change depending on our communities, our interests and our chosen families. In my experience, every person I’ve engaged in a conversation with, no matter how brief, has affected how I behave moving forward in some capacity. My personality has changed a lot from how I used to be as a child; sometimes, I compare my current self to an old car with a brand new paint job. One day, I was reading old diary entries and looking at photographs from when I was young. But then I wondered: how could I even be the same person as that little boy I saw in the photos? I, and so many others, feel like a ship of Theseus myself: have my new parts fundamentally changed who I am, or am I still the same introverted, goofy, closeted spirit, but with those traits warped?

The Heart of Theseus

By Matthew Van Praagh (Senior Statistics Major and Computer Science Minor)

Friends come,

Friends leave.

They mold me

mash me

change me

reshape me

transform me

Piece by piece

Then vanish like sailors once docked.

Each shrinks down to an infinitesimally small size,

Enters through the pores of my cheek,

Travels down the long, winding road that is my anatomy,

Until reaching my heart.

Reaching for the chambers,

They tug and tug,

Tug and tug,

Tug and tug,

Until pulling a piece out.

But before I can notice the blood flow,

They take a piece of their own heart and plug the hole.

They plug and plug,

Plug and plug,

Plug and plug.

Everyone I’ve ever met

has had this effect on me,

Tugging and plugging on my weary heart;

So I ask:

At what point did my heart

start becoming theirs,

and stop becoming my own?

And is my heart an original, comprised of its own parts,

or simply a hollow replica of what once was?

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