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Poetry speaks to many of us throughout our lives. Many of us choose poems for the big events in our lives, the birth of children, our wedding day or that most poignant of times -saying farewell at times of bereavement. We often need the words of others when our own fail us. A poem can often encapsulate our thoughts ,feelings and emotions at a particular time. For some, poetry reminds us of school, and depending on the teacher can be linked to good or bad memories. For others poems were part of story-telling or rhymes in the playground.
Many lawyers have told us at LawCare that they turn to poetry in difficult times, perhaps no surprise as lawyers are wordsmiths and deal in language. I remember when I was quite new to LawCare doing some training on Stress Management in Ireland. I mentioned how poetry was something I turned to for support when a young Irish lawyer spoke up and said he still had his Leaving Cert book of poetry in his filing cabinet. When things were not going so well and he wanted to escape for a while he would read The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. Something about the rhythm soothed him and gave him a way of rethinking a problem, or, switching off from a difficult client. What was interesting was the mutual recognition that reverberated around the room afterwards.
Poetry can make us laugh, cry, feel nostalgic, brave, not alone or even experience a mixture of strange, new feelings. We are all walking on the tightrope of time, anything that helps us balance on it just now is surely to be welcomed. We have shared some of the LawCare team’s favourite poems below – and would love for you to share yours with us too - email firstname.lastname@example.org with yours.
Happy the Man by John DrydenThis is a very short poem but it sums up what it is to live your day well and have no regrets.
Invictus by W. E. HenleyYou might remember this one from the film, Dead Poets’ Society. It reminds us that to stay strong and the need for courage.
Still I rise by Maya AngelouBest read aloud, a bit sassy and full of hope and determination.
And the people stayed home by Catherine M. O’MearaA poem by retired teacher O'Meara dubbed "the poet laureate of the pandemic" by O magazine.
The Brewing of Soma by John Greenleaf WhittierSuggested by The Lawyer magazine who say 'Whatever your religious sensitivities, the last three stanzas, speaking of the power of stillness and silence in a raging world, feel appropriate.'
Everything is Going to be Alright by Derek Mahon
Walk Slowly by Danna Faulds
The Cure of Troy by Seamus Heaney
You may also be interested to know about the Lockdown Lawyers project in which 50+ lawyers (solicitors, barristers, judges and some family members) have written about their experiences during the covid crisis and its effect on legal aid practices. The book is full of wonderful poems written from the heart and is available to buy here.
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