Poetry As Resource

“I cannot tell my story without reaching a long way back. If it were possible I would reach back farther still – into the very first years of my childhood, and beyond them into distant ancestral past…”

Hermann Hesse, Demian

In many traditions, healing is linked with stories, myths and poems. Every child, sometime between the ages of four and seven, makes a great sacrifice of his or her private inner language, so they can join the contract of the public language. The latter is more suitable for business, social interactions and science, the former speaks to the soul.

Therapists, like poets, have to be bilingual and move freely between these worlds. They build bridges and pathways and guide others through them.

A story or a poem can be such a bridge. It is made of words and concepts, and at the same time it is pointing beyond the literality of words, into shared meaning and non-verbal reality stored in images and symbols.

When I find a poem or a story that captures the suffering or conflicts of my client, and am able to share it soulfully, it becomes an integral part of their soul. The poem or story keeps working with the client, and he or she can take it wherever they go.

I have said that the soul
is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body
is not more than the soul;
And nothing, not God,
is greater to one than one’s self is,
And whoever walks
a furlong without sympathy,
walks to his own funeral,
dressed in his shroud.

Walt Whitman