heart wood blocks

5 Emotional and Physical Health Benefits of Poetry

Heart wood blocks
For decades, researchers have studied the effects of expressive writing, such as poetry, on mental and physical health. The results often showed that those who engaged in writing about emotions had better psychological and physical outcomes than those who wrote about neutral topics, according to Karen A. Baikie and Kay Wilhem in an August 2005 issue of Advances in Psychiatric Treatment. Reading and writing poetry fills the soul. Regularly immersing yourself in the form of expression has a range of additional short- and long-term benefits that are too beneficial to ignore.

Benefits of Poetry on the Body and Soul

1. Improved Cognitive Function

Cognition is the act of understanding and acquiring knowledge by experiencing, thinking and sensing. Poetry improves cognitive function because it exposes you to new words and ways to express yourself. It makes you examine a poet’s words to gain an understanding of the idea communicated. If a poem uses meter, you might even find yourself doing a bit of math. Writing poetry strengthens cognitive processes as you search for the right words, find ways to express your thoughts and fine-tune the work’s rhythm. When you write poetry in response to an event that occurred in your life, the art form will help you organize and structure your memories. Writing also helps increase working memory capacity, which also helps improve cognitive processing.

2. Healing Emotional Pain

Losses that stem from a myriad of situations cause some of the most painful emotions that humans experience. These losses breed some of the most inspirational poems. Poetry promotes emotional expression and healing as it makes you explore your feelings. Writing gives you a safe, healthy way to vent and understand your feelings. By putting emotions into words, you confront it, memorialize losses and make your feelings tangible.

3. Increased Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the knowledge that you have about your feelings, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, motives, desires and character. It helps you understand yourself and others, as well as how others perceive you. Poetry is a powerful vehicle in the search for yourself. It improves self-awareness as it puts you in tune with your heart and mind. It helps you be more aware of your actions, emotions and the roots of your problems. Even writing about issues that seem insignificant can help you discover trends in your life that you can change or embrace.

4. Improved Self-Expression

Reading and writing poetry strengthens language and communication skills. It helps you find your voice and communicate your emotions, giving you a new sense of empowerment. Poetry gives you a flexible way to express yourself using powerful tools, such as metaphors, that reflect your internal world. Creative visualization and projective identification allow you to access the healing power of your imagination, creating a lifeline when emotions seem overwhelming. Everyone has memories to face and stories to tell. Writing poetry can help you begin a dialogue with yourself and resolve issues that created roadblocks.

5. Reduced stress

Writing has always been hailed as a cathartic and therapeutic practice with a range of benefits to emotional and personal growth. When used as a therapeutic tool, writing poetry can also reduce stress in the body and mind. Stress increases cortisol, adrenaline and glucose levels in the body. It affects digestion and alters the immune system, putting you at risk for various health problems, according to the Mayo Clinic. Reading and writing poetry helps you reduce stressors in your life and manage the impacts they have on you, which may help improve your overall health and wellbeing.

Surrealist Poems about Emotional Breakthroughs and Strength

Max Ernst

By Paul Eluard
In a corner agile incest
Circles the virginity of a little dress.
In a corner the sky turned over
To the spines of the storm leaves white balls behind.

In the brightest corner of every eye
We’re expecting the fish of anguish.
In a corner the car of summer
Immobile glorious and forever.

In the light of youth
Lamps lit very late.
The first one shows its breasts that red insects are killing.

Awakenings

By Robert Desnos

It’s strange how you wake sometimes in the middle of the night in the middle of sleep someone has knocked on a door And in the extraordinary city of midnight of half-waking
and half-memory heavy gates clang from street to street

Who is this nocturnal visitor with an unknown face
what does he seek what does he spy
Is he a poor man demanding bread and shelter
Is he a thief is he a bird
Is he a reflection of ourselves in the mirror
Back from a transparent abyss
Trying to re-enter us

Then he realizes that we’ve changed
that the key no longer turns in the lock
Of the mysterious door of bodies
Even if he’s only left us for a few minutes
at the troublesome moment when we put out the light

What does he become then
Where does he wander? does he suffer?
Is this the origin of ghosts?
the origin of dreams?
the birth of regrets?

No longer knock at my door visitor
There’s no room on my hearth or in my heart
For the old images of myself
Perhaps you recognize me
I’ll never know how do you recognize yourself

Less Time

By André Breton

Less time than it takes to say it, less tears than it takes to die; I’ve taken account of everything, there you have it.
I’ve made a census of the stones, they are as numerous as my fingers and some others;
I’ve distributed some pamphlets to the plants, but not all were willing to accept them.
I’ve kept company with music for a second only and now I no longer know what to think of suicide, for if I ever want to part from myself, the exit is on this side and, I add mischievously, the entrance, the re-entrance is on the other.
You see what you still have to do.
Hours, grief, I don’t keep a reasonable account of them; I’m alone, I look out of the window; there is no passerby, or rather no one passes (underline passes).
You don’t know this man? It’s Mr. Same.
May I introduce Madam

Madam? And their children.
Then I turn back on my steps, my steps turn back too, but I don’t know exactly what they turn back on.
I consult a schedule; the names of the towns have been replaced by the names of people who have been quite close to me.
Shall I go to A, return to B, change at X? Yes, of course I’ll change at X.
Provided I don’t miss the connection with boredom!

There we are: boredom, beautiful parallels, ah! how beautiful the parallels are under God’s perpendicular

poetry book

Crossing the Line: When a Translated Poem Becomes an Original Work

 

poetry book

Language is a barrier in more than one respect. If you’re in a foreign country and can’t speak the native language, you might find it difficult to communicate. These barriers sometimes form when words are translated from one language into another. You can find extreme examples of this on some imported products, like a warning label for plum jelly that states, “1. Please do not attract one grain by to swallow. 2. Below five years old, please not edible.” These phrases might make perfect sense in the original language, but the literal translation ends up being a source of confusion and amusement. The same happens with varying degrees with translated poems. As a result, scholars often debate the effectiveness of translations.

Blurred Lines

When done correctly, translations are wonder devices that open doors to new worlds. They are essential to introducing readers to new cultures and ideas. Without them, you might not be exposed great works, like Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Candide by Voltaire, or Laozi’s Tao Te Ching. Poet Haroldo de Campos was celebrated for his masterful translations of some of the Western world’s most important works into Portuguese, such as those by Mallarmé, Dante, Homer and James Joyce.

The problem with translations generally stems from the fact that you are dependent upon a translator’s subjective interpretation. You rely on this individual’s understanding of the poet’s language, dialect, culture, life, target audience, historical period and more. You trust that the translator fully understood the original work and remained faithful to its essence and voice. You have faith that the translator is on par with the poet’s artistic abilities and has a good understanding of the new target readers and their culture.

When a translator fails to be faithful to the original work, it becomes the translator’s poem—a completely new work. When this occurs, interesting things happen. For example, a culture might adopt the translated piece as an original work. An example of this is John Dryden’s version of the epic Aeneid by Virgil. In the preface, Dryden stated that he tried to make Virgil sound English, as if he were from Great Britain. He turned the original unrhymed verses into couplets while using lines from Sir John Denham’s translation. Dryden rewrote Virgil’s work to appeal to an audience in a different period that had a different language and culture. He made the audience the priority. The losses in translation remain invisible to those who don’t take it upon themselves to do a careful comparison.

When an original poem and its translation clash, there is often a failure on the translator’s part to read for meaning and the language. This ultimately hurts the audience, but creates opportunities for additional translations. While a translator cannot change a poet’s original work, the individual can present his or her own interpretation.

Translations are like artistic mimicry. While it is possible to translate poetry, it is important to keep in mind that no translation will ever be the original work. Therefore, there is always room for reexamination and improvement. Rather than give up on reading translations, get your hand on as many as you can find. Read the introductory essays written by the translators to learn what guided their work and made it unique. Soak in the words and draw your own conclusions about original poet’s words.

Examples of Translated Poems

“The Song of Despair”

By Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.

The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.

Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.

From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of a blind diver,

turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.

Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,

sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,

beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,

I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed the infinite tenderness,

and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,

and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There were thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.

There were grief and the ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me

in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief was my desire of you!

How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,

still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,

oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force

in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.

And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was the voyage of my longing,

and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,

what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.

Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still broke in currents.

Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,

lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour

which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.

Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

Only the tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one.

 

“Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”
By Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry

and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.

My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.

We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses that I write for her.

 

“The Shape of Your Eyes”
By Paul Eluard, translated by Mary Ann Caws

 The shape of your eyes goes round my heart,

A round of dance and sweetness.

Halo of time, cradle nightly and sure

No longer do I know what I’ve lived,

Your eyes have not always seen me.

Leaves of day and moss of dew,

Reeds of wind and scented smiles,

Wings lighting up the world,

Boats laden with sky and sea,

Hunters of sound and sources of colour,

Scents the echoes of a covey of dawns

Recumbent on the straw of stars,

As the day depends on innocence

The world relies on your pure sight

All my blood courses in its glance.

 

“I Love”
By Jacques-Bernard Brunius, translated by Mary Ann Caws

I love sliding I love upsetting everything

I love coming in I love sighing

I love taming the furtive manes of hair

I love hot I love tenuous

I love supple I love infernal

I love sugared but elastic the curtain of springs turning to glass

I love pearl I love skin

I love tempest I love pupil

I love benevolent seal long-distance swimmer

I love oval I love struggling

I love shining I love breaking

I love the smoking spark silk vanilla mouth to mouth

I love blue I love known—knowing

I love lazy I love spherical

I love liquid beating drum sun if it wavers

I love to the left I love in the fire

I love because I love at the edges

I love forever many times Just one

I love freely I love especially

I love separately I love scandalously

I love similarly obscurely uniquely

HOPINGLY

I love           I shall love

5 Things to Know about Surrealist Poetry

surrealism

André Breton’s Le Manifeste du Surréalism (Manifesto of Surrealism) in 1924 sparked a cultural movement that unlocked limits. Surrealist artistic philosophy follows the premise that Breton set forth—that “omnipotence of dreams” and “disinterested play of thought” take precedence over logic and reason. The forefathers of the movement felt inspired by ideas surrounding the power of unconscious thought, and used writing and art to reconcile the unconscious mind with rational life.

A Guide to Surrealist Poetry

1. Beginnings in Dadaism and Freudian inspiration: The Surrealist movement grew out of Dadaism, which broke codes regarding society’s accepted values and conventions. Surrealism aimed to be an instrument of knowledge, as those who followed the movement believed that the subconscious contained true reality. Poets who followed the surrealist movement agreed with Freud’s theory that the unconscious mind is deeper than the conscious mind.

2. A higher reality and point sublime: Surrealism involves the concept of a reality that is higher than the reality that individuals experience in everyday life. Poets who followed the movement focused on the reality created by the waking consciousness, which unites imagination and the real world, subjectivity and objectivity, and dream states and wakefulness. Breton stated in The Communication Vessels that the real and dream worlds are the same; the mind in each state of being communicates like two connected vessels. This principle is also known as point sublime, which is the realization of surreal unity—the point at which contrasts merge, such as life and death, beauty and ugliness, the past and future.

3. The marvelous and objective chances: The concept of the marvelous, or aggravated beauty, had a large role in Surrealist poems. Marvelous concepts depicted in these poems portray the ongoing anxiety that underlies the human experience. The involuntary shudder that marvelous images cause is the result of objective chances—the juxtaposition of two terms that seemed to conflict with each other, but are secretly related.

4. Delirious love: Following Breton’s lead in the Second Manifesto, Surrealists celebrate love as the only idea that unites every individual to the idea of life, even if for a brief moment. Therefore, passionate commitment is a liberating force.

5. Automatic writing: Some surrealist writers used automatism. This means that as a poet writes, there is no conscious control over thoughts. She or he writes whatever comes to mind. According to Breton, a Surrealist poet should not filter, select or shape his or her writing. The words should be raw and vivid.

Examples of Classic Surrealist Poetry

Choose Life (excerpt)
Choose life instead of those prisms with no depth even if their colors are purer
Instead of this hour always hidden instead of these terrible vehicles of cold flame
Instead of these overripe stones
Choose this heart with its safety catch…
-André Breton

Arp
Turns without reflections to the curves without smiles of shadows with mustaches, registers the murmurs of speed, the miniscule terror, searches under some cold cinders for the smallest birds, those which never close their wings, resist the wind.
-Paul Éluard

Series
For the splendour of the day of happinesses in the air
To live the taste of colours easily
To enjoy loves so as to laugh
To open eyes at the final moment
She has every willingness.
– Paul Éluard

Enigmas (excerpt)
You’ve asked me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you…
-Pablo Neruda

Mobius Strip
The track I’m running on
Won’t be the same when I turn back
It’s useless to follow it straight
I’ll return to another place
I circle around but the sky changes
Yesterday I was a child
I’m a man now
The world’s a strange thing
And the rose among the roses
Doesn’t resemble another rose.
-Robert Desnos

[Photo from Ian Palmer via CC License 2.0]