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City Acupuncture's Blog

3 Poems That Celebrate Health

Posted by Rob Benhuri

Apr 13, 2015 1:24:00 PM

thinking_while_writingPoetry is an excellent form of self-expression. Here at City Acupuncture we have found that very often self-expression is the single factor that affects the outcome of a treatment plan more than any other.

The fact is that emotional and spiritual turmoil directly effects the health of our physical bodies, just as disease of the physical body causes emotional and spiritual turmoil.

That's why self-expression - the ability to vent emotional or spiritual turmoil - has such a profound influence on medicine.

As National Poetry Month rolls on, I thought this would be a good time to share a couple of poems that explicitly deal with the concept of health, and the workings of the physical body. I hope that by sharing some examples of well-known poets venting emotional turmoil through poetry you may be inspired to try it yourself!

1. =I Sing The Body Electric, by Walt Whitman

Significant verses about the body:

I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.


Was it doubted that those who corrupt their own bodies conceal themselves?
And if those who defile the living are as bad as they who defile the dead?
And if the body does not do fully as much as the soul?
And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?


The love of the body of man or woman balks account, the body itself balks account,
That of the male is perfect, and that of the female is perfect.
The expression of the face balks account,
But the expression of a well-made man appears not only in his face,
It is in his limbs and joints also, it is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists,
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck, the flex of his waist and knees, dress does not hide him,
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth,
To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder-side.

Read more of "I SIng The Body Electric" here.


2. Parkinson's Disease, by Galway Kinnell

While spoon-feeding him with one hand   
she holds his hand with her other hand,   
or rather lets it rest on top of his,
which is permanently clenched shut.   
When he turns his head away, she reaches   
around and puts in the spoonful blind.   
He will not accept the next morsel
until he has completely chewed this one.   
His bright squint tells her he finds
the shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,   
food may be our last pleasure on earth???
a man on death row takes his T-bone   
in small bites and swishes each sip
of the jug wine around in his mouth,   
tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt   
this supper out of him. 

3. The Use Of Force, by William Carlos Williams

(Personal note: this is one of the most moving and challenging poems I have ever read. Much of the power in this poem comes inWCW's willingness to let us in to his private thoughts while examining the child. Anyone who works in healthcare can - ashamedly - relate to this. All that said, this one is a doozy.)
They were new patients to me, all I had was the name, Olson. Please come down as soon as you can, my daughter is very sick.

When I arrived I was met by the mother, a big startled looking woman, very clean and apologetic who merely said, Is this the doctor? and let me in. In the back, she added. You must excuse us, doctor, we have her in the kitchen where it is warm. It is very damp here sometimes.

The child was fully dressed and sitting on her father's lap near the kitchen table. He tried to get up, but I motioned for him not to bother, took off my overcoat and started to look things over. I could see that they were all very nervous, eyeing me up and down distrustfully. As often, in such cases, they weren't telling me more than they had to, it was up to me to tell them; that's why they were spending three dollars on me.

Do you have other poems to suggest? Or maybe even one of your own you'd like to share? Let us know on Twitter #cityacupoetry!
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Topics: National Poetry Month

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