Beloved by a child. Intriguing to a preschooler. Detested by a teen. Elusive to an adult.
No matter who you are, one is bound to have come across poetry within their lifetime. That bedtime story that you would beg your parents to read to you before you sleep every single night? Chances are, those stories were probably your first taste of poetry whether it be Oh The Places You’ll Go or The Cat In The Hat by Dr Seuss.
In fact, most of us had probably learnt most of our first few sentences and words from these books. What made these poetic childhood books so effective in teaching the minds of children a language and fully ingraining those lessons into their minds?
This leads to one of the perks of reading poetry. It is typically able to stick itself into our minds, consciously or unconsciously. What’s the magic trick? Rhyme. While not all poetry is bound to the arbitrary limits of having to include a rhyming scheme, it is likely ones that are attempting to convey a point or possess a certain message, contains a rhyming scheme.
Ever wondered why that Taylor Swift song you heard over the radio once is now stuck in your head and you can now recite half the lyrics despite only having heard it once? And yet you find it nearly impossible to even pinpoint what the formula for the circumference of a circle is. The answer is rhyme.
Rhyme, whether it comes in the form of end rhyme…
“ For woman are as roses, whose fair flower,
Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.”
~ William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night)
or eye rhymes…
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
~William Shakespeare (Sonnet 18)
or internal rhymes…
“Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore”
~Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven)
… it tends to help readers or listeners remember things due to how cohesive they make a piece, which could include a poem, sound when read or heard. This is why one learns their alphabets from singing. It’s because it sticks in one’s mind and stays in one’s mind.
Thus reading a poem about a particular subject that is of interest or important to you, you can really be able to remember and learn different themes and topics in a way that you never would have been able to before and actually remember them and allow them to truly leave a mark on your memory. Even if its that one line that gets stuck in your head, it could be that one verse that well and truly changes the way your act or your mindset towards life for the better.
This continues on to the second advantage of poetry which is its unique ability to allow poets and writers to manipulate and utilize it as a tool for encouraging readers to view and comprehend things through a different lens and learn the ideology and theme of perspective.
Many poetry enthusiast and readers, whether they be casual audiences or poets themselves, have often bring this specific feature up as an interesting and special aspect of poetry. An example of this can be found in the article below by Amy Glynn, who argues that poetry “encourages you to look at things through another, often nonliteral, lens” and argues that “this is crucial”. Amy Glynn herself is also a poet and fiction author .
Why Read Poetry? Because It Can Make You More Empathetic
One upon a time, people did not have to ask the question, "Why poetry?" Poetry required no apologia, no formal…
Iain Thomas, who too is a poet, offers his expert opinion and shows further support for the fact that poetry “allows you to cover more emotional ground” when he compares what a novel and a piece of poetry can do.
Iain Thomas: Why Read Poetry?
"I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads…
The reason lies in the fact that to write poetry, unlike the creation of a fictional novel or autobiography, one has to firstly be completely honest and write from one’s heart. And while writing poetry, there’ll never be a single person to criticize you midway, interrupt or give you judgmental looks as you pour your raw and deepest feelings that you once thought were permanently locked and shackled down deep inside you onto paper. Thus whatever one reads from a piece of poetry is likely the result of a cathartic release by the poet. No tactfulness included and a complete absence of pretense.
The BFG by Roald Dahl? Its an excellent story but it certainly wasn’t written from Dahl’s heart and raw emotions. Sure, its a fun read, but it is likely not to deliver a truly heartfelt and relatable or contain the spark or catalyst that causes one to truly have a passionately emotional response.
“Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.”
~Henry Scott Holland (Death Is Nothing At All)
As someone who’d lost a grandparent not too long ago, I, and I’m sure all other viewers of this stanza who’d experienced the lost of someone important in their lives, within these four simple lines, have been reminded of our fond memories with our loved ones, feel comforted by the prospect of them having potentially wanting us to speak their name in celebration of our “little jokes”, affirmed that they appreciated that we “think of me[them]”and is now encouraged to “play, smile” rather than continue to ravel in our despair and sorrow and rid “the ghost of a shadow” from their name .
And I surely cannot be the only one who’s been affected this way by this particular poem as “Death is Nothing at All” went on to become Henry Scott Holland’s trademark piece of poetry and made him known to all. This clearly illustrates that his poem, the same way it had touched my heart, had touched others and its widespread influence is a testament to that.
Death Is Nothing At All
This poem is often read at funerals. The author, Henry Scott-Holland (1847 - 1918), a priest at St. Paul's Cathedral of…
This then links up with the fact that the experience of reading and appreciating a poem can very much be therapeutic for the reader, the same way it probably was both therapeutic and cathartic for the author and poet.
When one reads a poem of a particular theme that they were in great need of hearing about, and they finally find the right one where they’ll easily feel a emotional connection with the content of the poem as they divulge themselves into what the poem is describing. There, they find comfort in every verse that struck a chord in their heart and perfectly summarizes what they perhaps have been experiencing in their lives and they, as readers themselves, couldn’t have placed into words and are now touched by what they see as an empathetic piece that understands what they are going through. This process can very much be therapeutic for the reader and can very much pull a significant butterfly effect on the trajectory of their life.
Perhaps it is that poem on depression that convinces someone that they are not alone and helps them grow to be future writers of these poems that will go on to heal and accompany others. Or it could be that one seemingly simple piece of poetry that has helps them overcome suicidal thoughts and them, now filling more passionate and inspired than ever now to, through their experience, share and save many other lives.
This article below goes on to fully elaborate further just how therapeutic and healing poetry can be for the reader and also the poet him or herself as they write it.
Why poetry is one of the most powerful forms of therapy
April is National Poetry Month and naturally a great time to explore the immense therapeutic powers of poetry. Reading…
Ultimately, poetry is indeed quite a gift to mankind and must not be wasted and be fled from instead of read from. Its iconic, though stereotypical, feature of including rhyming schemes makes it a vital tool in learning that if utilized well can effectively allow people to learn and comprehend things while actually remembering them in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. Its requirement for its author to be completely honest in the first place helps to guarantee and ensure the unique rawness of emotions one would typically experience when reading a piece of poetry and in the process, receive what could be a much needed “therapeutic session” simply through reading, connecting and receiving an emotional response from a single poem that, too, had received the same amount of emotions from the author themselves when being written.
- Brewer, R., →, V., Us, A., Us, M. and Us, W. (2016). 8 Reasons Why Poetry Is Good for the Soul | Writer’s Digest. [online] Writer’s Digest. Available at: https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/8-reasons-why-poetry-is-good-for-the-soul [Accessed 18 Oct. 2019].
- Dailywritingtips.com. (2010). Types of Rhyme. [online] Available at: https://www.dailywritingtips.com/types-of-rhyme/ [Accessed 20 Oct. 2019].
- Medium. (2018). Why poetry is one of the most powerful forms of therapy. [online] Available at: https://medium.com/@bijalashah/why-poetry-is-one-of-the-most-powerful-forms-of-therapy-f3553cb909b4 [Accessed 20 Oct. 2019].
- Psychology Today. (2019). Iain Thomas: Why Read Poetry?. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/one-true-thing/201710/iain-thomas-why-read-poetry [Accessed 21 Oct. 2019].
- Bright Drops. (2014). 37 Dr. Seuss Quotes That Can Change the World. [online] Available at: https://brightdrops.com/dr-seuss-quotes [Accessed 22 Oct. 2019].
- All, D. (2019). Death Is Nothing At All By Henry Scott-Holland, Famous Death Poem. [online] Family Friend Poems. Available at: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/death-is-nothing-at-all-by-henry-scott-holland [Accessed 21 Oct. 2019].
- pastemagazine.com. (2017). Why Read Poetry? Because It Can Make You More Empathetic. [online] Available at: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/08/why-poetry-matthew-zapruder.html [Accessed 21 Oct. 2019].