Can anger set us free?  ‘Free from what?’ you might ask.  Well, from anxiety for starters.

There’s a line in the Bible (First Letter of St John to be precise) that runs, ‘perfect love casts out fear’.  And there’s much truth in that.  But I’ve sometimes noticed that when people are imprisoned by anxiety – paralysed by it in word, thought or deed – it’s often anger that casts out their fear, not love.

Such anger might arise from a sudden unaccustomed reactive explosion of rage, or from a gradual accessing of anger buried out of awareness deep within a person or perhaps from a final summoning-up of the courage to express in words the unpalatable truth that they are really thinking.

The result can be a total dissolution of the anxiety that, until that point, had inhibited them and made their lives a servile misery.  Yes, the anxiety will probably return but the experience of having voiced anger once may ease considerably subsequent expressions of it with the result that a potency is acquired that leaves less room for anxiety.

As often, all of that can be far better expressed in poetic form.  So, over to Stevie Smith and her poem ‘Anger’s Freeing Power’.

I had a dream three walls stood up wherein a raven bird
Against the walls did beat himself and was this not absurd ?

For sun and rain beat in that cell that had its fourth wall free
And daily blew the summer shower and the rain came presently

And the pretty summer time and all the winter too
That foolish bird did beat himself till he was black and blue.

Rouse up, rouse up, my raven bird, fly by the open wall
You make a prison of a place that is not one at all.

I took my raven by the hand, Oh come, I said, my Raven,
And I will take you by the hand and you shall fly to heaven.

But oh he sobbed and oh he sighed and in a fit he lay
Until two fellow ravens came and stood outside to say:

‘You wretched bird, conceited lump
You well deserve to pine and thump.’

See, now a wonder, mark it well
My bird rears up in angry spell,

‘Oh do I then?’ he says and careless flies
O’er flattened wall at once to heaven’s skies

And in my dream I watched him go
And I was glad, I loved him so,

Yet when I woke my eyes were wet
To think Love had not freed my pet,

Anger it was that won him hence
As only Anger taught him sense.

Often my tears fall in a shower
Because of Anger’s freeing power