The Human Touch

While searching for something in one of my long forgotten notebooks yesterday, a small piece of paper fell to the floor. On it was a poem my dad had typed on his ancient Royal typewriter; a poem I heard him quote many times as I was growing up.

'Tis the human touch
in this world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more
to the fainting heart
Than shelter and bread and wine.
For shelter is gone
when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day.
But the touch of the hand
And the sound of the voice
Sing on in the soul always.                

The author of this poem is Dr. Spencer Michael. Dr. Michael graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Johns Hopkins University in 1880. He practiced medicine and surgery for fifty years, wrote over one hundred medical papers, and still found time to write many poems.*

I’m sure that, as a physician, Dr. Michael was aware of the power of human contact with relationship to physical healing. But this verse also reveals his knowledge of the relationship of human touch to mental and spiritual healing. A wise physician, indeed!

Information from AllPoetry.


  1. Yes, I heard it many times, too. True, the human connection is essential to our well-being.

    1. Vanilla, I have often wished I had spent more time memorizing poems and sayings I like. Dad had a gift.

  2. One of my favorite poems is by another physician/poet: William Carlos Williams. It is called The Red Wheelbarrow and it is spectacularly simple and eloquent.

    1. Maria, I looked up "The Read Wheelbarrow." Very nice! Thank you for sharing it with me.

  3. That beautiful poem only hints at the wonderful power that is contained in the human touch. I think I understand why your father appreciated it so much.

    1. Secondary Roads, my dad had a collection of meaningful poems. His kids learned a lot from listening to him quote them at appropriate times.