Out of the Box Coaching and
    Breakthroughs with the Enneagram, Mary R. Bast, Ph.D. 
    Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved. Revised: April 05, 2015





Poetry & Personality

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Poems That Illustrate Each Enneagram Personality Style:  

“Poetry is the natural ally of the Enneagram in the cultivation of compassion. It convinces us on a deep emotional level, with power and vividness, flying beneath our own radar and enabling us to experience the worldview of another as our own.” Clarence Thomson, Enneagram Central

I Meet My Shadow in the Deepening Shade (how I've used poetry with my clients)

"The Faces at Braga" David Whyte (a metaphor for the transformation we all seek)

Ones can be perfectionists and may preach at others who fall short of perfection. Their driving force is anger, which usually erupts when someone has failed to live up to their expectations. They can also have a "running amok" side that allows temporary escape from their own high standards.

Twos typically maintain a "helpful" self-image, giving help and advice whether others want it or not. They may use manipulation to influence people. If feeling betrayed, they can even become vindictive ("after all I've done for you!"). Their driving force is pride (it's difficult to admit they have needs, too).

Threes are self-promoting and can showcase themselves, sometimes at the expense of others. They tend to look outward for their reflection in the eyes of others, and their inner life may be lacking. Their driving force is vanity, which requires always trying to look good; consequently they tend to be self-deceiving, reframing failure as success.

Fours can easily focus on their own flaws and sink into moodiness; their conversation is typically ripe with sad stories. Their driving force is envy, which shows up in dissatisfaction with the ordinary, the mundane: the grass always seems greener somewhere else.

Fives like to think long and hard, and sometimes sound as if they're giving a dissertation. They may have deep and passionate feelings, but they tend to disdain the role of emotions in human interaction. Their driving force is hoarding, which shows up particularly as a detachment from feelings, a stinginess of affection.

Sixes are characterized by self-doubt, indecision, and procrastination. In interaction with others they may look for hidden agendas and can be accusing, especially of those they worry have power over them. To counter their driving force of fear, they may exhibit reckless courage, then worry they've shot themselves in the foot.

Sevens love to tell anecdotes and may forget to invite others to talk, sometimes perceived as oversimplifying or skating over the surface because they're so interested in a variety of attractions. Driven by gluttony in search of pleasure and variety, they're over-focused on enthusiasm and uneasy activity: life MUST be fun!

Eights have a "bull-in-the-china-shop" quality and the reputation of being controlling, because it's difficult to acknowledge vulnerability. Driven by 'lust' (in the sense of excess), they feel responsible to direct situations and may pursue power aggressively. They greatly value justice -- as self-defined!

Nines are "nice" people who tend to merge with others' preferences. Taking a strong position is difficult because they see all sides of an issue and are essentially non-aggressive. Their driving force is indolence - they're often out of touch with their own wishes, a kind of self-forgetting. They tend toward epic tales (it's hard for them to focus).

Mary's Enneagram Poems: "Winding Sheets"

Alphabetical List of Poets/Poems in the Above Essays:

John Ashbery: The Problem of Anxiety
Margaret Atwood: Bored
W.H. Auden: I Have No Gun, But I Can Spit
Gregory Bateson: The Manuscript
Sheila Bender: For My Daughter...
John Berryman: The Animal Trainer (1)
Nina Bogin: Initiation II
Emily Brontë: Stanzas
Cathleen Calbert: The Woman Who Loved Things
Billy Collins: Osso Buco
Billy Collins: Forgetfulness
Carolyn Creedon: Pub Poem
Rita Dove: Three Days of Forest, a River, Free
Louise Erdrich: The Glass and the Bowl
Gary Gildner: First Practice
Seamus Heaney: Doubletake
Anthony Hecht: Lizards and Snakes
Jonathan Holden: At a Low Mass For Two Hot-Rodders
Mary Karr: The Worm-Farmer's Lament
Jane Kenyon: Depression in Winter
Maxine Kumin: Nurture
Stanley Kunitz: The Portrait
Denise Levertov: Variation on a Theme by Rilke
Constance Menefee: If Only

Pablo Neruda: Summario
Mary Oliver: Wild Geese
Merri Parker: Four to One
Marge Piercy: For Strong Women
Marie Ponsot: One Is One  
Naomi Replansky: Housing Shortage
Luis J. Rodríguez: Cloth of Muscle and Hair
Theodore Roethke: In A Dark Time
May Sarton: Now I Become Myself
Susan Fromberg Schaeffer: Confession in April
Karl Shapiro: The Sickness of Adam
Stevie Smith: Not Waving but Drowning
Stephen Spender: Dolphins
William Stafford: Bi-Focal
William Stafford: With Kit, Age Seven, At the Beach
May Swenson: Beast
Sharon Thomson: On The Flatlands
Sharon Thomson: Pigeons
John Updike: Dog's Death
Ronald Wallace: The Belly Dancer in the Nursing Home 
Anna Wickham: The Marriage
Paul Zimmer: Zimmer Resisting Temperance
Al Zolynas: Postcard From Home