Here’s an old poem I recently resurrected. I wasn’t able to find the newspaper article that inspired the poem (too old, I suspect), but I did find the research on the fact that a view of trees helps hospital patients recover. It was conducted by Roger S. Ulrich, a professor of architecture, a fact which alerted me to a whole branch of architecture which I’d had no idea existed–and which I’m very glad does exist, since its goal appears to be to make buildings more humane for the humans that inhabit them.
Ulrich’s landmark study* compared recovery experiences of two groups of patients who’d gone through the same surgery. One group had view of a wall; the other group had windows that looked out on trees. Guess what? The patients who could see trees had shorter hospital stays, needed less potent pain medication (and less of it), had fewer complications, and complained less about their nurses than did the patients who were looking at a brick wall.
I love this.
Unfortunately, a lot of hospitals still haven’t quite learned it. Last time I had to stay overnight, which I guess was for my second knee replacement surgery back in Dec. of 2009, my room had a lovely view–but I couldn’t see it. Some complicated computer terminal had been set up in front of it, where the head of the bed should have been, so I saw a big black computer screen, and beyond it–yes, a brick wall.
(click to see the poem)
LOVE’S A MYTH
Recent Research Proves.
Should we then
close the office of our hearts,
box up our affections,
rent out the space to the
For years we did not know
how bees could fly.
What if the bees had ceased
their impossible flight
till science proved them capable of what
they all along were doing?
No flight, (no stings)
no accidental pollen adhering
to fuzzy, dangling legs—
no peas, no beans, no cantaloupe—
Doctors, their backs to windows,
confer: why doesn’t she get well?
(What wisdom this?)
Now research has finally shown:
the tree outside the room can cure what
drugs within can’t touch, the secret
inner room of the heart.
I’ll go on loving, I think, a while yet
till research catches up to me;
I’ll be a bee, my wings all wrong,
my body too heavy for flight, suspended impossibly
in air, delving into flowers’
warm and secret centers
on summer days.
*(“View through a window may influence recovery from surgery,” published in Science in 1984.) If you google the title, you’ll find several sources for downloadable pdf files.