Poetry is one of the oldest forms of art, but do modern readers need it? Let’s figure out why poetry matters in the digital age.
The desire for creativity has been a trademark of men since time immemorial (remember those rock paintings?) Art helped the development of mankind and developed along with it, influencing society along with historical events and politics.
But poetry is not just a piece of art that expresses emotions through rhymed lines. It is a prerequisite to gain a complete understanding of the world and it has many additional benefits. Here are 10 reasons why poetry matters today still.
Poetry expands our vocabulary & verbal skills
Reciting poetry is a good practice of diction and verbal skills. This happens due to a specific rhythm, tempo, and rhyme of the verse. But that is not the only reason why poetry matters. It also expands our vocabulary by introducing us to rare and elegant words that enrich our speech and make us more intelligent. Often, in order to understand a poem, you need to analyze the meaning of individual words and figure out why the author used one and not another.
Reading poetry aloud helps to capture linguistic nuances and semantic accents better than reading prose. Poems are built and sound according to their own natural laws based on the right feeling, and simple knowledge of grammar is not always enough to grasp their meaning.
Poetry opens up possibilities for language play
Poets add new words to the language, just as artists create new paintings. It is believed that Shakespeare created about 2,000 new words during his writing career, some of which are still used in everyday English. Shakespeareanisms include such words as fashionable, vulnerable, defeat, and even advertising.
William Shakespeare knew why poetry matters
A simple selection of rhymes sometimes prompts you to look at words in a new way and make linguistic discoveries where it would otherwise not have occurred to you to do so.
Poetry improves critical thinking
People asking why poetry matters often don’t know that poetry improves critical thinking skills better than most other types of writing. The meaning of best poems is seldom obvious and never one-dimensional. Taking an active part in deciphering such poetry, we essentially become co-authors as poetic language affects our perception of the world around us.
Poetry readers are more likely to analyze information and correctly evaluate the author’s point of view and the degree of its objectivity. This skill is useful in everyday life for anyone who wants to form their own opinions instead of following the herd that gladly consumes fake news and advertising aimed at tricking people into buying overpriced things they don’t need.
Poetry helps us hear the music of the language
In many ways, the aesthetics of a verse depend on how individual sounds and their combinations work together, alternate and repeat. From this the sound image of the word is born. A famous Russian poet of the 20th century Maria Tsvetaeva praised the music of poetry: “There is something in poems that is more important than their meaning: their sound.”
Professor Herman Beavers agrees with this reason why poetry matters:
Sometimes, by listening to sounds we can understand what is not directly said in words. Thus, the musicality of the verse evokes an additional context that can be more meaningful than the one contained in the definitions of the words.
Poetry improves memory
Poetry helps us remember better. Even before the invention of writing, poetry was used to convey information and ideas in philosophy, religion, history, and science. Memorizing poetry gave people the opportunity to share the thoughts of their ancestors with their descendants.
But even after the advent of writing, poetic rhymes and rhythms help us to better remember anything: from foreign words and new concepts to useful facts and rules. It has long been proven that people who learn poetry by heart are less prone to Alzheimer’s. This is why poetry matters even to those who don’t necessarily understand it.
Poetry is a medicine for the soul
You’ve got that medicine I need:
Fame, liqour, love — give it to me slowly…
Lana Del Rey
From time to time, we experience anger, frustration, sadness, or fear. We often keep these unpleasant feelings to ourselves. But negative emotions bottled inside can lead to psychological overstrain and, eventually, a breakdown.
Writing and reading poetry helps us to not only understand the feelings brewing inside us, but also release them peacefully. Surprisingly, reciting a sad poem can be therapeutic and help relieve your own grief. There is even a special term for such treatment — bibliotherapy.
Thus, poems can become a guide or interlocutor, give a little warmth and consolation when no one is around, especially when you don’t passive consume it but compose poetry yourself.
Poetry helps to overcome boundaries
One of the best qualities of literature — and poetry in particular — is the ability to connect readers and writers across different epochs and cultures. Poetry can be called concentrated literature as its timeless properties are enhanced to an extreme by the careful deliberateness required to produce a well-written poem.
For example, we may not know what life was like in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. However, reading Shakespeare’s sonnets about love, jealousy, despair, and creativity, we can bridge the gap of centuries and get a little closer to that period, and this is a great reason why poetry matters now and will matter always.
Poetry promotes personal growth
Poetry can be the first step towards becoming familiar with art in general. Most poems don’t take a long time to read, and they are easy to find on the Internet. Once the reader begins to feel comfortable in the world of poetry, she is more likely to turn to other forms of art as well (instead of binge-watching silly TV series).
Poetry is often a part of large-scale art movements. For example, you can trace the move from modernism in literature to modernism in visual arts and architecture. Thus, poetry matters as a portal to the vast world of culture and can serve as a great starting point for personal growth.
Poetry encourages creativity and new ideas
Have you ever faced a creative crisis? It doesn’t really matter if you are in a creative professional or not. Perhaps it was just a thought was in the air, and you couldn’t grasp it.
To write a poem, sometimes it is necessary to sort through hundreds of words and read a lot of excerpts from the works of classical poets. All this helps to find inspiration and new ideas that you did not even know existed.
Reading and writing poetry doesn’t just generate new ideas: it can also radically change the perception of old ideas, help you look at past experiences and emotions in a new way.
Poetry teaches you to understand others
One of the difficulties of this age is the inability to understand each other. Reading and writing poetry can develop empathy in us and the ability to hear the opinions of others.
The author must be able to convey the essence of his work to abstract readers. To do this, he needs to dive deeply into the psychology of the reader, make her understand and feel similar sensations. Only if mutual understanding is reached between the writer and the reader will the poem resonate.
In turn, poetry teaches the reader patience because you need to try to look into someone else’s mind and develop empathy and sympathy for another person. The ability to empathize is tantamount to a respectful attitude.
Concluding thoughts on why poetry matters
In the world of poetry, nothing is right or wrong. The only important question we should ask ourselves when reading or writing a poem is: “Do I like the feelings it awakens in me?”
We all have a lot of thoughts running through our heads, and poetry is the perfect way to give them an outlet. Poetry helps us explore our feelings and adjust our “inner compass”, and this may be the best reason why poetry matters to anyone looking to understand him- or herself.
The truth is: as human beings, we are imperfect, but that’s okay as long as we realize that and take active steps to improve in the areas that are within our control. Poetry is able to access the most tender parts of our souls and shed some light on them, unearthing truths and provoking epiphanies that would otherwise cost a lifetime to reveal.
As we can see, the importance of poetry does not diminish over time. She still plays a big role in people’s lives. We hope that our article helped you answer the question “ Why poetry matters? ” and if there are more reasons you can think of, share them in the comments!