On the Poetry of David Whyte


On the Poetry of David Whyte

Ericksonian Language Patterns and Poetry

We are thrilled and grateful to feature on our web site, www.Ericksonian.info, a wonderful contribution by world-renowned poet, David Whyte. It is his poem “SOMETIMES” from the collection, “Everything is Waiting for You.” You can read the poem here: http://www.ericksonian.info/SOMETIMES.html


A few years ago, while conducting a class on Ericksonian Hypnosis, I was struck by the poetry of the words in a good trance induction. That, when intoned with close attention to the meaning and sound of the words, the phrasing and the intentional ambiguities, the words that were spoken were like poetry. This excited me because I’d always loved poetry but never felt able to create it myself.

I began to use snippets of poems I knew, like from e.e.cummings, in trance inductions with clients and got wonderful results.

Then I was introduced to the poetry of David Whyte while on a personal journey of my own. The first thing I ever heard of his was a tape recording of an interview David gave called “The Power and Place of Poetry” wherein he says, “the poet is a person who tries to say ‘it’ whatever ‘it’ is at any one time.” (How perfect! How very much exactly what an Ericksonian hypnotist is trying to do.) He describes how poetry, like James Hillman’s philosophy about modern psychotherapy, brings a more mythological perspective to the human experience as opposed to the more “finding-out-what’s-broken” of traditional therapy. (How very similar to Erickson’s utilization principle.)

In this same interview, while talking about the human need to connect with our soul, he talks about taking poetry into the business world. I was amazed he was able to really find a connection to soul in what some regard as the most soul-less of places, the modern business corporation. In the course of his talk David would recite one of his or someone else’s poems – he seems to have countless poems memorized – and I was again amazed, this time at his style of reciting. He would often repeat lines or whole sections of the poem before continuing on in the poem, calling the listener’s attention to the beauty of he words and the imagery and feelings they evoked.

Since then I have read and reread the poetry of David Whyte hundreds of times, privately and in classes that I’ve taught. I always find myself taken in by the depth and the beauty of his work.

I am honored that he offered the poem “SOMETIMES” to our web site. I invite you to read it, be moved by it, or not. Reread it in whole and in part, and to get curious as to how you can use poetry in your work and in your life. Further explore the beautiful and wonderful world of his work at his web site, www.davidwhyte.com

About Doug O'Brien

Doug O’Brien is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, and a Certified Hypnotherapist. In 1988, while assisting at NLP and NAC training seminars with Anthony Robbins, Doug achieved the designation of Master Trainer. He now conducts numerous seminars of his own around the globe (specializing in the “Sleight of Mouth” patterns of Robert Dilts, NLP Certification Courses, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapy) and helped found Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

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