Poetry and Secrets

Welcome to the Autumn series of workshops with Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, aimed at members of the Living Well community.

This week we want to explore the theme of secrets and secrecy. We are interested in the idea that poems, like people, contain secrets that they may or may not choose to reveal.

This morning we will:

Hear some poetry and prose on the topic of secrecy, secrets, and privacy from a range of perspectives.
Discuss how the authors express their ideas and feelings.
Talk reflectively together, share our perspectives and favourites, and how these poems can give us a new insight.

The Poems

  1. Jim Moore, Secrets
  2. Denise Levertov, The Secret
  3.  George Herbert, Confession
    O What a cunning guest
    Is this same Grief!  Within my heart I made
    Closets; and in them many a chest;
    And like a master in my trade,
    In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till:
    Yet Grief knows all, and enters when he will.

    No scrue, no piercer can
    Into a piece of timber work and winde,
    As God’s afflictions into man,
    When he a torture hath design’d.
    They are too subtill for the subt’llest hearts;
    And fall, like rheumes, upon the tendrest parts.

    We are the earth; and they,
    Like moles within us, heave and cast about:
    And till they foot and clutch their prey,
    They never cool, much lesse give out.
    No smith can make such locks, but they have keyes;
    Closets are halls to them; and hearts, high-wayes.

    Onely an open breast
    Doth shut them out, so that they cannot enter;
    Or, if they enter, cannot rest,
    But quickly seek some new adventure.
    Smooth open hearts no fastning have; but fiction
    Doth give a hold and handle to affliction.

    Wherefore my faults and sinnes,
    Lord, I acknowledge; take thy plagues away:
    For since confession pardon winnes,
    I challenge here the brightest day,
    The clearest diamond: let them do their best,
    They shall be thick and cloudie to my breast.

Further Reading

You may like to have a look at Words for our selection of poetry and prose on the theme of death and dying.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, and learn from your insights and experiences. Feel free to speak to the nursing team or get in touch with us directly cambridgegooddeath@gmail.com.

Posted: 6th September 2022