The Magic of Poetry and How it Can Ease Pain

Poetry can ease the pain. Through it you can weave a path towards your deeper self, to find yourself and stop blocking your light.
The Magic of Poetry and How it Can Ease Pain
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 20 June, 2023

Poetry can ease the pain during those moments in your life when you feel like your heart has broken into a million pieces. When your thinking fragments and you feel exhausted. You might find it hard to go on and then plunge into depression. You feel the storm is here to stay.

Those are the moments to turn to poetry. This is because thanks to it, you can heal part of that wound. Continue reading and take a tour through the wonderful connection between art and health. Furthermore, discover how poetry can help unload part of the suffering you carry in your emotional backpack.

“He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.”

-George Sand-

Art and health

Art is a powerful vehicle that’s both a support and a medium to express conscious and unconscious matters. Through different art forms, humans can express how they feel, what they think, and even how they are. It makes it easier for them to go with the flow and reflect on themselves.

Similarly, the medical field uses it as a tool to relieve pain. In fact, there are all sorts of therapies that involve music, painting, photography, theater, etc. Everyone does better when they’re part of a creative process. For example, people with terminal cancer benefit from humorous situations in the performing arts. It’s for this reason that there’s such a thing as clown therapy in some hospitals. Other forms of therapy use scents to stimulate people with Alzheimer’s and help them release their emotions. As you can see, many cope with their traumas through art.

This isn’t to say that art completely stops the pain. Do keep in mind that health is an integral matter. That it’s also related with the mental and social planes. Thus, the sensation of pain can decrease when there’s a feeling of interconnection.

An eye overlaid on a pine landscape.

Poetry can ease the pain

According to the dictionary, poetry is the “A quality of beauty and intensity of emotion regarded as characteristic of poems”. Words communicate emotions, thoughts, and actions and anyone can reach a state of calm through them. But how?

Poems are full of symbols, stories, and expressions that can touch the human soul. In fact, they’re so powerful they get in tune with the depths of your being. Thus, it connects you with someone who seemingly gets you.

It’s as if they captured the moment and say what you can’t put into words. Poetry expresses it all so clearly that it’s almost as if they knew your most intimate secrets.

Poetry as psychotherapy, school, and community

Humans have been using poetry for therapeutic purposes for a long time. For example, Aristotle encouraged experiencing catharsis through poetry for an emotional cure. Also, in the early 19th century, psychiatry recommended it for the mentally ill, thanks to Benjamin Rush.

Eli Griefer, a poet who volunteered at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in New York, led by psychiatrist Jack J. Leedy, was the creator of poetry therapy. Together, they wrote its principles and suggested using it for the treatment of emotional disorders.

The National Association for Poetry Therapy arose in 1981 and holds annual conferences around the USA. In recent years, more books on poetry continue to appear. In fact, the most well-known collection that recognizes poetry as a means for psychotherapy is: “The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics“.

Now, to delve into recent scientific research, you can also explore the Journal of Poetry Therapy.

Poetry allows humans to express themselves from their safe space and open up, little by little. Through metaphors, it helps you transcend the meanings of the word and connect from the depths, as well as to visualize what you feel, think, and act.

Similarly, writing also eases the pain. On the one hand, it allows you to sublimate the anguish and, on the other, to delve into symbols, words, and images that help you generate the content you don’t know how to put into words through everyday language.

A happy woman.

How poetry can ease the pain – education and the community

Poetry can be an educational resource with which to enhance emotional intelligence in the classroom. It’s a well-researched subject though seldomly applied in the academic field in spite of it being as necessary as the rest of the subjects.

Similarly, poetry enhances creative expression and leads to self-knowledge. It allows you to express parts of your darkness, to be compassionate and empathetic, to create deep content, to identify yourself, to release tensions, and to turn suffering into learning, among others.

You can also use poetry when working with communities. This is because it can link the emotions, thoughts, and actions of the subjects that comprise it. In addition, it promotes creation based on an individual’s roots, traditions, and beliefs.

Communities can deepen through collective poems that unify and help the community transcend. In addition, they bring people closer together by rescuing the value of ancestral metaphors in which stories loaded with morals are told.

In short, poetry brings people closer to their darkest places and helps them build a path through words to shed light on a new horizon. It soothes the soul through the expression of your darkness. Finally, it’s a form of delving deeper to find the bright light at the end that appeases pain and helps you transform it and transcend beyond.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Mazza, N. (2017). The evolution of poetic inquiry practice, education, and evaluation in poetry therapy, 30 (1). Doi:

  • Mazza, N. (2017). Poetry therapy: Theory and practice. (2ed) New York: Routledge.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.