I often make the case for poetry as good medicine. I think of poems as small capsules of meaning that heal the soul thanks to active ingredients like celebration, consolation, inspiration and revelation—call them the “ations” if you’re a clinician and want to categorize them alongside the statins, mycins, salicilates and other classes of pharmaceuticals.
Truth be told, I’ve rarely prescribed poems to patients, but have done so from time to time for friends and family members suffering from illness, anxiety or uncertainty . I also prescribe for myself on a regular basis. Here are a few of the “ations” and poems that I find therapeutic.
Celebration: Bugs in a Bowl, David Budbill
Consolation: Go Down, Dom Helder Camara
Humiliation: The Mistake, James Fenton
Inspiration: New Water, Sharon Chmielarz
Lamentation: Dirge Without Music, Edna St. Vincent Millay
Meditation: The Way It Is, William Stafford
Revelation: The Guest House, Rumi