Based in London, the Royal College of Nursing sends its monthly newsletter by surface mail to each of its 400,000 members. This month’s issue will be recommending the “Poems for… project. So a large community of people will be put in touch with us.
The newsletter refers to a longer piece on the project that will go up on the Royal College’s website simultaneously. The piece is headed “The Art of Nursing.”
It links to a poem called “These are the Hands” by Michael Rosen. In 2008, while he was the UK’s Children’s Poet Laureate, Rosen was commissioned to write the poem in celebration of the NHS’s 60th birthday of that year. Soon afterwards, Michael Rosen gave his permission for us to publish it. And soon after that, we had it translated into four other languages and added all the different versions to the “Poems for…one World” collection, positioned in alphabetical order according to language. One of those languages is Punjabi, which can be written in Hindi (Ghurmukhi) script as well as Urdu (Perso-Arabic) script. I am grateful to Amarjit Chandan for helping us demonstrate both possibilities.
But here in pdf we have brought together all six of the poems that now share the same title as Rosen’s original – in 4 different scripts and 5 different languages. Beneath each one is a common title “Poems for…the art of nursing.” And here is what Michael Rosen had to say about it all : “This is amazing and wonderful. Many, many thanks. All power to your elbow…I think that this is a stimulating, exciting and important project. We all need to be able to talk to each other and we need to be able to talk to each other about things that matter. I wrote the NHS poem firstly because I was asked to but more importantly because I care deeply about the NHS. My parents fought for it, it brought my children into the world, it saw my mother and father out of it with care and dignity – and much more besides. The people who work for the NHS come from all over the world and the NHS cares for people whose origins are all over the world. It is a truly international, inter-communal, inter-cultural institution. How right then that what we say within the NHS can, when appropriate, talk multi-lingually. I am excited and delighted that my poem might appear in several languages. It shows that we can talk to each other just as we try to care for each other. I think the project needs all the help it can find.”