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Thoughts Inspiration Education: How Poetry Affects The Mind

Updated: Mar 8, 2020

Books by Tirza Schaefer

There are many different forms of poetry. Some poems adhere to strict rules of rhyme and rhythm, others flow freely and don’t even rhyme at all. Those are called lyric. And then there is poetry like Dadaism where only a sequence of nonsensical words made of certain sounds are strung like beads on a string to form a flow of a meaningless stream that hold meaning to, perhaps the poet, or to you, if you give it meaning, much like an abstract painting.

Shakespeare is possibly the world’s most renowned poet and his writings contain deeper truths at times, at other times, they are full of mirth, or dark like the shadows of the shadows within your own soul. Then again, there is love and light. My personal favourite of his, “my big bro Will,” as I call him affectionately, is Sonnet 18, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.”

Books by Tirza Schaefer

Tirza Schaefer & William Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon

Poetry encompasses the entire range of human emotion and celebrates deep feelings, from the highest love to the lowest depravities. There is spiritual poetry and erotic, and anything in-between.

What makes poetry so special and also necessary is the fact that it stimulates a different part of the brain than, say, a textbook which targets analytical thinking. And of course, an infinite number of works have been written about the analysis of poetry. And that is a great thing. For the learner and interested person, it provides a host of deeper insights into a poet’s work, in general, as well as in particular.

Books by Tirza Schaefer

But what really is so incredible about poetry is not that it follows rules or techniques, but that it speaks to a deeper part of us, beyond critical thinking, going right for the heart space, whether this is in a positive or negative way. Personally, suicidal poetry drags me down emotionally a lot more than suicidal fiction or a psychological discourse on the nature of severe clinical depression.

But poetry can also be a catalyst to great healing, to elevated feelings, to a greater appreciation of beauty and love, and to write it, it can be a great tool for self-expression, as well as self-healing. Therefore, I would like to end this short excursion into the infinite world of poetry by showcasing one of my own works which describes a spiritual and emotional cleansing I have undergone last year in spring and subsequently wrote this poem about to “digest” the entire experience and integrate it on a deeper level. (Video below.)


The Cleansing

Things are happening

Not to me, but through me

At a rate that is crazy

Dizzying, frenzied

Tears streaming down over my skin

Washing away the poison

In a cleansing within

All that pain is flowing out of my body

With silent, screaming tears of deep release

The pain beyond sound

My voice falters and dies

I cradle my little daughter in my arms

Reassuring her, and clinging on to her

For dear life

While the child holds the loving space

With wisdom and courage

Beyond her years

For me to heal and soothe that inner child

That had been so deeply hurt

And now, finally, feels whole and safe

I feel raw and exhausted

Yet infinitely blessed

I lie down in bed

And take a rest

Deep sleep envelops me

I feel like I’ve had open-heart surgery

And need to recuperate

When I open my eyes next and get up

I seek out my daughter

Make sure she is fine and understands

That a healing occurred

And not an act of deepest despair

But a letting go of it

And I thank her for being there

And supporting me in it

We hug again and I feel so much lighter now

Than what I used to be

In this new, infinitely freer reality

And after dinner we go to bed

She sleeps tonight

Beside me in my bed

While her hand gently rests on my arm

I watch her drift into dreamland

And I’m awake

Wide awake

And think I should type up

The little story of Picasso I told a friend

The other day

Of which I kept the audio

From our WhatsApp conversation

For this purpose

My friend upon hearing it

Had urged me to write it down for kids and teens

As a motivational speech

The way I told my little daughter Tarini first

And while I’m typing

I begin to understand

That this is something greater

Way beyond a little story

Short and sweet

But now pours from me

In a forceful stream

Thrashing its way

Through my fingertips, the keyboard

Into physical reality

Words on my computer screen

After 4 a.m.

My fingers are red and raw

The story is told

And all it needs is a frame

To be spread in book form

Throughout the world

For the young ones, the wise ones

On this earth to read

And finally, gently

I drift off to sleep

Happy that inspiration

Had so driven me

Until now loosening its tight grip

Rest and dreams envelop me

(1 May 2016 – 01)

Which poems do you love the most and how you feel about them?

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