The power of poetryPosted: October 3, 2013
Today is National Poetry Day.
I suppose I should be saying or writing something profound.
I don’t have a new poem to offer you. However, I just heard something interesting on the BBC news tonight that I would like to share with you.
It seems that people who have dementia respond to poetry – sometimes with just a smile or a flicker of recognition. Sometimes even joining in with the words.
This does not surprise me. Those of us who learned poems as kids can often still recite them – even when we can’t remember the title of the book we last read – or even what we had for dinner the night before!
I remember how at our daughter’s wedding ceremony we were all moved to tears when my son-in-law’s grandfather, who had dementia, seemed to respond to the familiar words and melodies. I had also seen it when prayers were said in the synagogue at his nursing home. Elderly people – many of them with dementia – joining in with the songs and the familiar prayers. Sometimes mouthing the words or even saying them out loud. It was amazing to see.
So yes, there is power in poetry, prayers and music. To these things that we all hold inside us.
When it’s my turn, I want Robert Louis Stevenson, Wilfred Owen, Leonard Cohen and also to hear the cherished voices of my own children and grandchildren.
So, to celebrate National Poetry Day, let’s all learn a poem by heart today – and tell it to our children tomorrow.
Here’s an easy one to remember from Robert Louis Stevenson:
The world is so full of a number of things
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
Or how about this one – from me.
Poems are very hard to write
I think about them in the night
I wish that I had time to play
Then I’d write poems in the day!
Happy National Poetry Day everyone!
© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems