The original title of this poem is “Hurtful Ways.“
Symbolically, the chess pieces pair the masculine and feminine sides (the anima and the animus). Beyond the masculine/feminine pair, the poem captures the air of “animosity” between the two energies. Interestingly, chess pieces are, by nature, “combative.”
“In both its positive and its negative aspects the anima/animus relationship is always full of ‘animosity,’ i.e, it is emotional, and hence collective. Affects lower the level of the relationship and bring it closer to the common instinctual basis, which no longer has anything individual about it. Very often the relationship runs its course heedless of its human performers, who afterwards do not know what happened to them.” Jung also tells us that, “when animus and anima meet, the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction.” –Jung, The Syzygy: Anima and Animus
When it comes to couples and relationships, conflict and animosity is expected.
Jung pioneered and mapped the psyche. He was astoundingly knowledgeable in many areas, a researcher, intellectual, psychiatrist and a medical doctor. Jung was able to live an extremely accomplished and fulfilled life. I’m always amazed at the way Jungian doctrine coincides with the symbolism in my poems. I don’t set out to prove Jung right or wrong, I observe the patterns. And I can observe the animosity in this poem. I see that there are naiveties and unconscious energies at work in relationships.
What it Means
Jung is telling us that, generally speaking, women project their masculine attributes onto men, and men project their feminine attributes onto women. This territory and the counterbalancing is a given. Lots of emotional content affecting relationships is due to misperceptions and stereotyping, and the “rules of engagement” seem to change with the times. It isn’t surprising that the takeaway is awareness— know yourself, recognize your shadow characteristics, and your feminine/masculine sides. Be especially aware of the pieces that belong to you in relationships and shared emotional webs.