Humanist Voices in Verse: What Humanism Means To Me

This week’s poem is by Helen Bennett. Helen is the author of Humanism, What’s That? A Book for Curious Kids (2005, Prometheus Books). Helen is president of the Humanists of Brevard and is a former high school and university English teacher, children’s librarian, and editor.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.


What Humanism Means To Me

Humanism means to me
A chance to feel I’m really free
To take responsibility
For all I choose to do and be.
I don’t demand a deity
To dominate my destiny,
But I decide the ends I deem
Most worthy of my self-esteem.
Creating purposes and goals
Nourishes all human souls.
Our ethics we ourselves have wrought
From social need and human thought.
Words like prayer and soul and grace
For me, will always have a place
As metaphors for what we’d teach
Beyond the realm of concrete speech.
Mythology and metaphor
Can help us penetrate the core
Of Mystery, that source of art
That may reveal the human heart.

Unlimited capacity
For good or ill, tenacity
And products of the human mind
Promote my faith in humankind.
We have the power to postulate
A world that’s free of fear and hate,
Where love and tolerance hold sway,
And no one is compelled to pray.
The best ideals, the thought of God,
Emanate from humble sod,
For men and women have created
Every concept we’ve debated.
From Shakespeare’s art to Hitler’s pain,
We take the sunshine with the rain.
With humanism as our guide
Faith and reason coincide,
And in our hands lies Nature’s fate,
To nurture or to desecrate.
Evil can cause us to fail,
But I think goodness will prevail.
Though orthodoxies throw a rope,
Humanism is our hope.

–Helen Bennett