Rhymes, verses, plays on words, and metaphors -- it soothes the heart, transforming us from the inside.
Reciting your favorite poem as soon as you open your eyes in the morning? Letting your imagination roam free and playing with words? Reading poems and writing them? This is what French writer, philosophy professor and poetry lover Jacques de Coulon proposes we all do. “Writing a poem is to let life take over us and allow it to transform us from inside,” he says.
Experiencing poetry each instant of our life
German philosopher Martin Heidegger claimed that language is a “house of Being.” According to him, words and their combinations are the buildings blocks that compose us. We think with words. Hence, the more diverse the language, the more effectively individuals can use it.“And isn’t poetry at the cutting edge of a language? With its melody, its rhythms and images, it represents the most perfect ‘house of being.’ Man can be constructed and reconstructed through poetry,” explains de Coulon. “A well-chosen word can cure all kinds of ills. Plato said that each soul becomes what it sees and what it feels. To construct yourself, is to be able to control your thoughts and perceptions. In carefully choosing the content of thoughts.”
But how can we do this exactly? “There is no need to panic,” reassures de Coulon. His methodology is simple and does not require one to excel in rhyming. You just need to keep a few verses in mind. Then depending on circumstances you can recite them out loud. For example, some Homer if you feel like having an adventure: “The prince and goddess to the stern ascend/ To the strong stroke at once the rowers bend/ Full from the west she bids fresh breezes blow/ The sable billows foam and roar below” or some William Blake if you are fighting the blues: “Joy and woe are woven fine/ A clothing for the soul divine/ Under every grief and pine/ Runs a joy with silken twine.”
Another option for all those less familiar with poetry consists in cultivating a “poetic outlook,” a sort of internal alarm ready to go off at any moment. It’s vital in preventing the daily grind from taking over your life. Here is an easy exercise you can try: take a break from whatever it is you are doing and go for a walk, admire the clouds, listen to the birds sing … If you begin to feel like a six-year-old, good for you! This is the whole point. With “poetic therapy,” here you are a little kid once again, but with all of your adult wisdom.
Poetry can bring us closer to God
There is no need to analyze poetry. We should just simply allow it to descend from its pedestal and find its way back into our everyday lives. Although this will take a bit of work (the left side of our brains responsible for logic and mathematics putting up some resistance), the positive effects are simply spectacular! You will breathe easier: the levels of stress will go down and the anxieties become less pervasive. “There is blockage, because some people try to approach poetry cerebrally, to make sense of it. But first, you need to get back to your body, to sensations, to physicality.”
Then, poetry can take the possession of your whole being, body and soul and ultimately bring you to higher realities. “A prayer is to God what poetry is to the world,” affirms the poet philosopher without hesitation, “In prayer, I start listening and talking to the world as if it were a living being. For a worshiper it comes down to the same thing. Poetry brings us to God and God brings us to poetry. Weren’t some of the greatest saints, like John of the Cross or Francis of Assisi, also poets? This is the language de Coulon uses to encourage families to get back to poetry.
Why poetry matters more than ever
The Chinese emperor’s Catholic poetry