How Poetry Can Heal You
Write a poem. Yes, you can, even if you’ve never written one before! Just sit down with a nice, smooth pen and crispy paper and dip into your heart. Let your thoughts and feelings flow freely. After all, you are not doing this to win a prize. Write about something that has been on your mind for a while: someone you love but cannot express your feelings to? A source of worry at work? The agony of waiting for a medical report? Pour it all out on paper. It doesn’t need to rhyme, as long as you enjoy the cadence of your own words. You’ll find that writing a poem can help clear your head and lift your spirits beautifully.
Paint your poem! Try to sketch joy, loneliness, or the mood of that poem you wrote when you were feeling restless. Chase that thought with your camera. Who knows where it might lead?
Share your verse. Discuss it with others, and you can get valuable feedback on your style and content, besides touching a chord with those who listen. Members of Caferati, a literary club that has members from all walks of life across major cities in India, affirm that their monthly poetry-reading sessions help them bond and refresh.
In Praise of Poetry
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
~Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry,” Reasons for Moving, 1968
Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
~Dead Poet’s Society
Poetry is ordinary language raised to the nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.
~Paul Engle, New York Times, 17 February 1957
Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.
Next page: Some of my favorite poems
Poems I Love
Fun: The delightful American poets Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein write for kids, but no adult can resist their magical verse. Sample this gem by Prelutsy:
“My stomach’s full of butterflies!”
lamented Dora Diller.
Her mother sighed. “That’s no surprise,
you ate a caterpillar!”
Inspirational: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep…” these lines by Robert Frost (Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening) have inspired countless worker bees to toil on, no matter how tough the journey.
Romantic: If you can read Urdu, then it’s the Deewan-e-Ghalib, which will make you smile and cry in turns with its reflections on the pleasurable pain of love. In English, it’s Elizabeth Barrett Browning with verse like, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” that never fails to tug at the heartstrings.
Calming: Rabindranath Tagore’s Geetanjali. Each word is strung into this collection like a glittering pearl. ‘The earth laughs in flowers.’ ‘Timid thoughts, do not be afraid of me, I am a poet…’ Leaf through this ageless work and allow yourself to drift away…
Earlier: The Power & Legacy of Poetry