Why should you read poetry? Well, in the words of Aristotle, “Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.”
Some of the universals it can capture is the beauty of a raindrop, the power of a smile, the crushing nature of true love, the simplicity of longing and hope, and the wonder of life’s curious journey. Poetry can express what we feel and desire, and connect us to our present emotions, allowing what we see to stay with us, and helping us stay with what we see. There are experiences in life with elusive truths that only a poet can capture, moments that can be held within the words and lines, giving voice to what can only feel deep within us. Poetry is both art and science, fact and fiction, horror and beauty, sometimes all on the same page.
Still not convinced? How about the fact that poetry builds your vocabulary. Poetry helps you see something familiar in a new light. Poetry challenges you to think and refines your mind.
Or in the words of Jeanette Winterson, poet and writer, “A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers — a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”
We challenge you to go to your finding place and read one of the great poems today. There are so many to choose from, and the idea of a “great” poem may vary among all of us, but if you don’t have a favorite, we have selected a few of the classics.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
All The World’s A Stage, William Shakespeare
In Memoriam A.H.H., Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Selection from Canto 27)
Funeral Blues, W.H. Auden
Jabberwocky, Lewis Carroll
Invictus: The Unconquerable, William Ernest Henley
Sonnet 18, William Shakespeare
Sonnet 43, How Do I Love Thee, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
- Christina Rossetti
- Edgar Allen Poe
- Emily Dickinson
- William Carlos Williams
- e.e. cummings
- Langston Hughes
- Silvia Plath
- William Blake
- William Butler Yeats