4

I would need a verb (or a phrase) that describes what a plough does to the earth (literally) and can apply to the earth of our heart in a metaphorical way. This is a positive connotation that may involve pain, but leads to a good result. The context could be something like:

Hardship and afflictions ____ the earth of our heart(, plough it), uproot all the weeds so that we may be delivered of every regret, so that we may be able to look forward.

What word would you suggest after "afflictions"? Whatever the plough does to the earth reveals things that were concealed underneath. This is the meaning the author is trying to convey.

I would be grateful for any suggestion, even if it only partially covers all the connotations that I have given.

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  • 1
    "Plough it ... so that it may be free to run forward", means that the earth will run forward. Is that what you wish to say?. Dec 14, 2020 at 10:37
  • 1
    I will edit my sentence to make it clearer.
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 10:38
  • What about 'cleanse'?
    – Ram Pillai
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:32
  • There are some good metaphors in various translations of Hosea 10:12
    – roblogic
    Dec 16, 2020 at 2:49
  • 1
    @roblogic: Amazing link, I had no idea that this metaphor existed in the Bible. Thank you.
    – fev
    Dec 16, 2020 at 8:01

8 Answers 8

4

Good question. Off the top of my head, I came up with plow. Considering how M-W defines the word, I think it would suit your purpose to a nicety—

: To turn, break up, or work with a plow

To make (something, such as a furrow) with a plow

And here is AHD on another meaning of the word—

To make or form with driving force: I plowed my way through the crowd.

To progress (through water) : plow the high seas.

Thus, the two connotations you are seeking are nicely encapsulated in this word.

Another beautiful and short word that fits the context is till, which AHD defines as—

To prepare (land) for the raising of crops, as by plowing and harrowing; cultivate.

On a personal note, I like till better than plow because it seems to convey better the sense of roiling up the earth for something productive.

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  • 12
    Note that "plow" is American spelling and "plough" is the British spelling. Dec 14, 2020 at 11:06
  • 1
    @Chasly: Thank you, I am looking for the British spelling.
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:07
  • @chasly- supports Monica— I have come across this word innumerable times, but had never thought Plough is the British version of Plow. But thank you for enlightening me. :)
    – user405662
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:09
  • 2
    They are of course pronounced exactly the same! Dec 14, 2020 at 11:09
  • 1
    @user405662: Oh, wait, I am not looking for something cheesy! Actually, what do you mean by cheesy?
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 14:04
12

Hardship and afflictions till the earth of our heart(, plough it), uproot all the weeds so that we may be delivered of every regret, so that we may be able to look forward.

To till has the advantage of being a little old-fashioned, and this suits religious language.

OED:

till (v) tr., intr, absolute

4.a. transitive. To bestow labour and attention, such as ploughing, harrowing, manuring, etc., upon (land) so as to fit it for raising crops; to cultivate.

1625 N. Carpenter Geogr. Delineated ii. i. 8 Every man began..to till & manure the soil.

4 b. spec. To plough (land).

1863 H. Fawcett Man. Polit. Econ. i. iv. 48 The same ploughs till the land for many successive crops.

6. figurative. To cultivate (something figured as land or as a crop, e.g. the mind, a ‘field’ of knowledge, a virtue, etc.).

a1764 R. Lloyd Author's Apol. in Wks. (1774) I. 6 And tills their minds with proper care.

1
  • 1
    I am frustrated that I cannot accept two answers for the same question...
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 15:47
3

The word is Break.

Clearly the meaning is to break the earth of our hearts. It is to break our heart so that from the pain there will be growth. That we may be delivered of every regret, so that we may be able to look forward. The meaning of the action is the explicit, future, good purpose of the result.

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  • "break" might turn the reader in the wrong direction. To break someone's heart with a good purpose is rather unusual.
    – fev
    Dec 15, 2020 at 7:31
  • The desirability of a broken heart is an extremely common notion in Judeo-Christian literature, for example Psalms 51:17.
    – erickson
    Dec 15, 2020 at 15:34
3

Ploughs turn the earth.

From Merriam-Webster

turn: 3 a (1): to dig or plow so as to bring the lower soil to the surface
turn the compost weekly.

2

The plough breaks ground

New Jersey Ag Agents often field calls like this from beginning farmers with small acreage and urban ag market gardeners who need to perform primary tillage, i.e., break ground for the first time. Working with a limited budget, they face the daunting task of opening up an old pasture like our farmer’s, or soils that are compacted and abandoned. (sustainable-farming.rutgers.edu)

Metaphorically, you could say: "Hardship and afflictions break up the earth of our hearts..."

Other options are furrow and gouge, both verbs:

Furrow:

to form or cut a long line or hollow in the surface of something (Cambridge)

Gouge:

to dig or cut into something in a rough or violent way (Cambridge)

"Hardship and afflictions furrow the earth of our hearts, rooting out weeds of..."

2

Although you've already accepted an answer, I would suggest "harrow."

Unlike plowing, which does not make a field easier to travel, harrowing leaves a smoother finish to the soil. It is often used as a way to remove weeds from a large area.

Further, harrowing is sometimes used in an alternate sense to describe a trial or hardship, which fits your metaphor.

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    "Harrowing" has another, very negative connotation. This does not fit OP's described needs.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 15, 2020 at 1:23
  • 1
    I'm not sure. The negative connotation is one of hardship and affliction. But that's what builds character.
    – erickson
    Dec 15, 2020 at 1:24
  • 3
    "Harrowing" is incredibly frightening, as in a Chucky movie.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 15, 2020 at 1:37
  • 1
    @fev Farmers don't harrow their fields to get negative results. It's a preparation for planting new seed. "Harrow," with this positive connotation, is sometimes used in religious contexts; I can't tell if your quote is from a religious or spiritual text, but it shares the same tone as a lot of religious commentary. As part of the agriculture metaphor, I personally would interpret it as harrowing the earth. But I guess more people are ignorant about how they are fed than I realized.
    – erickson
    Dec 15, 2020 at 15:30
  • 1
    There's always "tilling".
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 15, 2020 at 18:39
1

Hardship and afflictions ? the earth of our heart(, plough it) and uproot all the weeds, so that we may be free to run forward.

The intention of this is perfectly clear as a metaphor and it is correctly phrased. . However I'm not convinced that the metaphor makes sense. It is a lot easier to run on unploughed land than on ploughed land. This is because the furrows and the loose soil will slow you down and trip you. I know, I have tried!

enter image description here


Note

A capital is required after a question mark: Hardship and afflictions? The earth of our heart."

Also, in English we do not leave a space between a punctuation mark and the preceding word. Thus "afflictions?", not "afflictions ?".

1
  • I do apologize about the "running". I did not mean it in that way. I have edited again to make it clearer.
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:06
0

EDIT

In view of a comment below, I have changed my answer.

scour

scour - 5. To clear (an area) by freeing of weeds or other vegetation https://www.thefreedictionary.com/scour


**Old answer**
> Hardship and afflictions ... the earth of our heart; uproot all the
> weeds so that we may be delivered of every regret, so that we may be
> able to look forward.

I have modified it a little as follows:

Hardship and afflictions are the earth of our heart. Uproot all the weeds so that we may be delivered of every regret; so that we may be able to look forward.


This makes sense in the form above. It is a convincing metaphor.

**Note**

I used a semicolon to replace a conjunction as follows:

Hardship and afflictions are the earth of our heart. Uproot all the weeds so that we may be delivered of every regret **and** so that we may be able to look forward.

https://www.grammarly.com/blog/semicolon/
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  • I am sorry for my confusing formatting. The ... were meant to be replaced by the word I am requiring.
    – fev
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:25
  • Okay. The first word that comes to mind is "scour". "scour - 5. To clear (an area) by freeing of weeds or other vegetation" thefreedictionary.com/scour Dec 14, 2020 at 11:32
  • Okay, the first word that comes to mind is "scour". I have edited my answer. Dec 14, 2020 at 11:40
  • Most people associate "scouring" with steel wool and kitchen sinks. It also sounds quite similar to "scourge" (whip brutally), which has highly negative connotations. All in all, a scoured/scourged heart sounds like it would turn into a mess of scar tissue, not be purified. Dec 15, 2020 at 4:40
  • @lambshaanxy - I agree. However the dictionary definition is spot-on with regard to the meaning. It is not my fault that two similar-sounding words have different meanings. scour comes from Latin excurare "clean off," literally "take good care of," - scourge comes from Old French escorgier meaning "to whip," (From etymonline.com) - Perhaps you have a better-sounding solution? I think that the trouble comes from the original metaphor. Cultivating land is a rough old business. Hard work, and you get your hands dirty. Dec 15, 2020 at 11:22

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