Prescribing the Ations

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