lightgrid, St-Germain, gridwork, 7-Ray, Violet Ray, net-of-light

How Doctors Use Poetry

A Harvard medical student describes how he is learning to both treat and heal.

One part of the Hippocratic Oath, the vow taken by many physicians, requires us to “remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”  When I, along with my medical school class, recited that oath at my white coat ceremony a year ago, I admit that I was more focused on the biomedical aspects than the “art.” I bought into the mechanism of insulin lowering blood sugar. I bought into the concept of diabetes-induced kidney damage. I bought into the idea of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in patients with diabetes. But art’s—poetry’s—role in the modern practice of medicine?

I’ve changed my mind. Physicians are beginning to understand that the role of language and human expression in medicine extends beyond that horizon of uncertainty where doctor and patient must speak to each other about a course of treatment. The restricted language of blood oxygen levels, drug protocols, and surgical interventions may conspire against understanding between doctor and patient—and against healing. As doctors learn to communicate beyond these restrictions, they are reaching for new tools—like poetry.

Mark DotyUNM Alumni / flickr

Researchers have demonstrated with functional magnetic resonance imaging that reciting poetry engages the primary reward circuitry in the brain, called the mesolimbic pathway. So does music—but, the researchers found, poetry elicited a unique response.1 While the mechanism is unclear, it’s been suggested that poetic, musical, and other nonpharmacologic adjuvant therapies can reduce pain and the use and dosage of opioids.2

One randomized clinical trial by researchers at the University of Maranhão studied the effect of passive listening to music or poetry on the pain, depression, and hope scores of 65 adult patients hospitalized in a cancer facility. They found that both types of art therapy produced similar improvements in pain intensity and depression scores. Only poetry, however, increased hope scores. The researchers conjectured that poetry can break the so-called law of silence, according to which talking about one’s perception of illness is taboo. After listening to poems from Linhas Pares by Claudia Quintana, one participant said “I feel calmer when I hear those words. That agony, that sadness passes. They are important words, they show me that I’m not alone.”3

Poetry is a way to both embrace the hospital encounter, and escape from it.

In another study, 28 Iranian women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer participated in eight weekly sessions of group poetry therapy. Their quality of life, as measured by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire, showed improvements.4

Insights like these are already making their way into the clinic. Sarah Friebert, a physician at Akron’s Children’s Hospital, has integrated poetry into her clinical practice. She runs a pediatric palliative care center where children are visited by a writer-in-residence who helps them create poems and stories. On discharge, patients and families can request home visits on a monthly basis, and patients can submit completed work for publication. 

I learned about Friebart’s program at a poster session at the 9th Annual Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Symposium, which I attended this year in Chicago along with three of my medical school classmates. We were all supported by the Poetry Foundation and the Poetry in America Initiative. Armed with a bit of training in how to use a video camera and how to do an interview, we camped out in the lobby of Northwestern Medical School, interviewing a slate of researchers and poets alike. In one interview, we met with Catherine Belling, an associate professor of medical education, and asked her how she thinks poetry can be used in the medical sense.

“Poetry is a beautifully condensed form of what all of language does, which is what captures the real world and turns it something manageable and meaningful,” she told us. Physicians and patients can sometimes assume that the other party is on the same page, she said, when they are not. Language is not always transparent and sometimes our vocabulary is insufficient to describe our mood. Poetry is, in some ways, uniquely capable of addressing this problem. “Poetry has a structure, which is something we can experience with our bodies,” Belling says. The medical evidence suggests that this is true in more ways than one.

We also interviewed the poet Eric Elshtain, who uses poetry on the wards to teach children the power of self-expression at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois. He’s found that many of his patients (whom he likes to call “students”) write haikus about the things that make them human, like sports or their favorite stuffed animal, rather than their experience in a hospital bed. Poetry, he said, is a way to both embrace the hospital encounter, and escape from it.

Rafael Campo and Mark Doty in conversation at the 9th Annual Hippocrates Poetry and Medicine Symposium.

Midway through the conference, we filmed one of the plenary events of the day: a discussion between our mentor, the physician and poet Rafael Campo, and the poet Mark Doty, a National Book Award winner who came to prominence with his poems about the AIDs epidemic. Campo and Doty lamented that medical professionals can get too easily caught up in treating disease. When pharmacology and procedures end, there is still a space for healing. While a sonnet a day won’t help a diabetic’s blood glucose, it might help with preventing diabetes burnout—the state in which he grows tired of managing his condition. When physicians care for their patients, they have a responsibility both to treat, and to heal. And poetry can help with healing.

As Campo and Doty talked, I thought about Doty’s poetry reading the night before, when his sublime words prompted all of us to gaze at the horizon of our mortality.  One of the poems he shared was “This Your Home Now,” set in a barbershop called Willie’s:

… the men I have outlived …
—though in truth I have not forgotten one of you,
may I never forget one of you—these layers of men,
arrayed in their no-longer-breathing ranks.
Willie, I have not lived well in my grief for them;
I have lugged this weight from place to place
as though it were mine to account for,
and today I sit in your good chair …

The poem reminded me that each person has a story of griefs and happiness; that my mundane day at the hospital may be someone’s worse day of their life. In my first year of medical school, I’ve been taught how to conduct a thorough history. That means asking patients about their illness, medical history, medications, and about how their illness is affecting their life. The problem is, all of this needs to fit inside the boundaries of an electronic medical record template.

I’ve decided that I’ll learn how to meet my patients beyond the chart documents; that I’ll encourage them to write their own empowering stories; that I will heal as well as treat. In other words, that I’ll honor each and every word in the oath I took last year.

Danny W. Linggonegoro is a medical student at Harvard Medical School.

This article was supported by the Poetry Foundation, an independent literary organization and publisher of Poetry magazine.

Views: 100

Replies to This Discussion

Poetry that springs from a conversation with our deeper self is healing as this medical student has found. It springs from honesty of what we truly believe, wonder or observe. It need not be ever shared with another person, unless we are comfortable with that. Its main worth is in the deeper understanding and healing it brings to the poet.

Enjoy your poeting,


Dear Ishema,

Poetry is good and when we say words in Rhythm and synchronicity it gives its music  but actually Music has much more power to heal.

In certain private hospitals in India they give some Music to give just diversion from their ailments and they ...means patients like that and it really gives some relaxation.

here each person has a story to say !! By that they will release some pain  !!

Good subject  for discussion.

when a person is very happy he/she will give some poems and just the reverse when they are not happy that time also very good emotional release take place !!


Thank you Sohini for sharing your experience. 

I find a level of honest in poetry which is helpful in understanding my deeper issues. It allows me to get past my ego. It also seems to allow my language to flow with more rhythm.

With love,


Dear Ishema,

I have also my poetries in Hindi, Gujarati and English languages...

And there was a time it was coming very spontaneously.

Emotions are there but I think there is no ego factor.

Now a days it is not coming like those days,, I do not know the reason.

Thanks for your message !!


You are right Sohini,

There are many reasons that one might not be writing poetry. It is not always ego that takes our attention else where. I was speaking here for myself. 

Thank you for your interest in this post and for your comments.



Dear Ishema,

When you have intension to write then it may not come and sometimes suddenly some words are coming...I have written is Sanskrit language also one a like poem but in snskrit it is known as Stotra.

Daily one was coming having only two lines.

But it was very good and was a Blessings from the mother Goddess !!


Thank you Sohini for your replies and for this beautiful image.



Help us to anchor the energy of the New Age on Earth. Get inspired and set up a grid with the intention to help HEAL Mother Earth and all Her Beings from the wounds of the past and WEAVE a new net of living LIGHT all around the planet to help all life forms evolve into Unity Consciousness.


Ascension is not about leaving the world - it is about bringing HEAVEN down to EARTH!


We are the living BRIDGE between the worlds and dimensions, between HEAVEN AND EARTH. We are free to move in TIME and SPACE when we enter the SACRED SPACE of the Divine Chamber of the HEART  where the ThreeFold Flame resides and the god given Divine Blueprint is waiting to be downloaded into our earth bodies.


The TIME to ACTIVATE our Light Body is NOW.




Sonja Myriel RAouine

"About the Use of the Violet Flame" 


I have to tell you that when you as a conscious disciple manage the Violet Flame, a parallel activity of the Violet Flame is initiated internally. This results in the vibrational awakening of your chakras. Therefore, each time when you use the gift of the Violet Flame you are asked not only to focalize your attention on what you want to transmute but also on the internal activity which takes place within yourself.

One of the consequences of the continual use of the Violet Flame is the accelerated awakening of all your chakras, you will, step by step, wake up in a different world from where you live now.


Lightgrid CONNEXION Groups

This is the space for you to ORGANISE your personal connexion group, to look for likeminded people, to introduce yourSELF and say what you would like to contribute to the every expanding NET OF LIGHT around the world.


You have received clear guidance on a project,type of meditation, course of action to take? You are WELCOME to share here so we can start DREAMING and thus CREATING together!


Blog Posts


Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 25, 2021 at 3:41pm 0 Comments

INTEGRATING AND CLEANSING SOUL EXTENSIONS:- Each person has twelve Oversouls. Each Oversoul has twelve Soul extensions, or twelve personalities, that incarnate into material existence, although not necessarily just on this planet. The twelve soul…



Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 24, 2021 at 7:19am 0 Comments

INTEGRATED SPIRITUAL GROWTH 3 :- Another aspect of evolving the Physical Vehicle is building one’s immune system Spiritually, Psychologically, and Physically. Part of the evolution of the Physical Body is to remove all negative thoughts,…



Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 23, 2021 at 8:12am 0 Comments

INTEGRATED SPIRITUAL GROWTH 2:- Building Light Quotient is easy, it is just a matter of calling it in from the Celestial realms. Physically feeding the Physical Body is easy, and the Physical Body will grow even when we abuse it and feed it junk…



Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 22, 2021 at 7:47am 0 Comments

INTEGRATED SPIRITUAL GROWTH 1 :- One interesting insight into these three levels of growth is that the Physical Body grows automatically. If an adolescent drinks and smokes too much, and never Psychologically matures, they will still Physically…



Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 21, 2021 at 9:25am 0 Comments

INTEGRATED SPIRITUAL GROWTH:- There are three levels of integrated Spiritual growth that each person on Earth must master to truly achieve God Realization. These three levels, are the Spiritual, Psychological, and Physical/Earthly level. The…



Posted by Ms Tercy Lonan on February 20, 2021 at 7:00am 0 Comments

TRUE PRAYER IS A CO-CREATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE SONS & DAUGHTERS OF GOD WHO ARE SPIRITUAL MASTERS AND CO-CREATORS WITHIN THEMSELVES:- Many people often pray, however it is not done from 100% personal power, owning the fact that you are a Son…


© 2021   Created by Myriel RAouine.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service