Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Poetry and How it Can be Used in Social Work

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

Poetry—- a form of creativity, but it serves another purpose as well. Poetry, like music, is an outlet for feelings and emotions. It is a way to get a point across in a very creative way.

I would like to share some poetry that has had an influence on me both personally and professionally:

“Live each day as if it is the only one you have. Find a sense of peace and strength to deal with life’s disappointments and pain while striving to discover vehicles to make more accessible, increase nd sustain joys and delights of life.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Grant that I may not so much seek to be justified, as to console; to be obeyed, as to understand, to be honored, as to love….For it is in giving of ourselves that we heal, it is in listening that we comfort, and in dying that we are born to eternal life.   – Saint Francis

I think continually of those who were truly great. Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history through corridors of light, where the hours are suns, endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition was that their lips, still touched with fire, should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song. And who hoarded from the Spring branches the desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.

What is precious, is never to forget the essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth. Never to deny it pleasure in the morning simple light. Nor its grave evening demand for love. Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother. With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.

Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields. See how these names are feted by the waving grass and by the streamers of white cloud and whispers of wind in the listening sky. The names of those who in their lives fought for life, who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre. Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun And left the vivid air signed with their honour. – Stephen Spender

“We are each an island. It is your task to bring to your own island what you need to live long and well: love, beauty, diversion, friends, work that sustains, a meaningful life, etc.

It is your life, it is short. Treat your island with regard. Do not let it weed, do not give it over to anyone else. Understand the possibilities. Know the dangers. Keep away the ungenerous and unkind.” – Kay Redfield Jamison

I am share many of you have a poem that comforts you or brings meaning to your life’s work. Or perhaps you are one who writes poetry and you have one to share?

Please feel free to leave a poem that has had an influence or that you use with clients or patients.

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