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Emotional Rescue: A Poetic Refuge

close up of large open book laid flatWhat do you do when you are sad or struggling? I read poetry. In fact I can’t understand why one wouldn’t read poems then. People tell me, ‘oh I don’t really get poetry.’ It baffles me. If you don’t have poems or prayers ,what do you hold onto when the pain gets to be too much? When you aren’t strong enough to hold on any more.

Poetry as therapy exists, and Bibliotherapy is even being piloted on the National Health Service

“The use of books as therapy in the treatment of mental or psychological disorders.” – Oxford English Dictionary

I’ve compiled my own bibliotherapy shortlist for you. Scroll down and find a poetic or literary ‘prescription’ for your emotional state.


Peaceful Heart – Haven Trevino


Twelve Things I Don’t Want to Hear – Connie Bensley


All will be well – St Julian of Norwich

The Way We Live – Kathleen Jamie 


The Camel’s Hump – Kipling


Clearing – Martha Postlewaite


The Peninsula – Seamus Heaney

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost


Wild Geese – Mary Oliver

Love – George Herbert


The Lake Isle of Innisfree – W. B. Yeats

A Thing of Beauty – Keats

The Bright Field – R.S Thomas


My help is in the mountain – Nancy Wood

The Darkling Thrush – Thomas Hardy


Say Not the Struggle Naught Availith – Arthur Hugh Clough 

Sometimes – Sheenagh Pugh

Days – Philip Larkin

Start Close In – David Whyte


Every New Morning – Susan Coolidge 

Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetat Incohare Longam – Ernest Dowson


Postscript: For Gweno – Alun Lewis

Musee des Beaux Arts – W. H. Auden

Remember – Christina Rossetti  

Sympathy – Emily Bronte


A Poison Tree – Blake 


Everyone Sang – Siegfried Sassoon

Hope Things with Feathers – Emily Dickinson

The Arrow and The Song – Longfellow


Still I Rise – Maya Angelou

Where there is a woman there is magic – Ntozake Shange


One Art – Elizabeth Bishop

All You Who Sleep Tonight – Vikram Seth


The End of Love – Sophie Hannah 

I pray to the ray from the window pain – Anna Akhmatova


The Guest House – Rumi

Leisure – William Henry Davies

The Rainy Day – Longfellow


Do You Imagine the Universe is Agitated? – Lao Tzu 


Sweet Darkness – David Whyte 


i thank you god for this amazing day – e.e.cummings


What are your favourite poems and books? Please share in the comments…..

Image courtesy of Bob AuBuchon.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Grace Quantock February 21, 2015, 8:23 pm

    Poetry can help so much. I love having the poems to hand to help…

  • Andrea February 20, 2015, 1:58 pm

    This is beautiful, thanks for sharing the poems, they are a real inspiration.

  • Grace Quantock August 4, 2014, 7:52 pm

    Thank you so much for visiting Lucy and for your kind words! Loving LitTherapy.

  • Lucy April 22, 2014, 11:25 am

    There’s so much to praise about this – thank you, Grace! Your literary prescriptions are brilliant (especially the Frost for feeling confused!)

    It’s always great to find a kindred spirit, particularly when it comes to spreading the word about bibliotherapy.

    Keep reading and writing!
    Lucy from Tolstoy Therapy and LitTherapy

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