I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul”—Walt Whitman (1819-92).
Walt Whitman was a journalist and poet who volunteered as a nurse in 1863-4, during the American Civil War. His major work, Leaves of Grass, first published in 1855, was revised and expanded over the course of nine editions during his lifetime (with a tenth edition published posthumously in 1897).
Whitman’s poetry is intensely observant of the physical world, and deeply attuned to seasonal cycles and the passage of time. Birth and death, aging, disease, injury, love and passion all appear in his work, which is renowned for its oratory style, and its celebration of the embodied nature of human experience. “I sing the body electric”, he wrote. “And if the body were not the soul, what is the soul?”
The poem continues:
Dr Jacob Edmond
I coordinate a University of Otago English paper, ENGL131: Controversial Classics, which is an approved eighth paper for Health Science First Year. As I posted on the course Facebook page, ENGL131 fosters the skills that a recent report suggests are the best predictors of success in the health professions: critical thinking, analysis, and communication.
Doctor poet Frank Koenegracht is, as it says in his publicity, ‘one of the best, albeit not yet best-known, poets of the Dutch language area.’ For a day job he has been a psychiatrist specialising in sleep disorders.
He was born in Rotterdam in 1945 and has published ten volumes of poetry all with De Bezige Bei (The Busy Bee). He has received two prizes for his work: in 1990 the Anna Blaman Prize an in 2001 the Frans Erens Prize for his collective work.
His poetry often employs a vernacular style and picks up pop music allusions, has flashes of humour but is seriously involved with the human condition.
Dr Lesley Morrison
You who read..
May you seek
As you look;
May you keep
What you need;
May you care
What you choose;
And know here
In this book
That will change
You and be yours.
Gael Turnbull, from There Are Words: Collected poems (Shearsman Press, 2006), by permission of the author’s Estate.
This was and is very much our aspiration for this project, to enhance the experience of being a new doctor, and to provide a comforting, supporting and illuminating friend.