“Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art.”
— Thomas Hardy
Although we celebrate National Poetry Month in April, poetry is a part of our lives throughout the year. Songs are no more than poems set to music. Dance is poetry expressed physically. And art is...well, you get the gist.
We connect with poetry. Quick, name your favorite Robert Frost poem. Is it The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Nothing Gold Can Stay?
Don’t we all have a favorite poem or poet?
Whether you prefer one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, Byron’s heroic couplets, Walt Whitman’s free verse, the blank verse of e.e. Cummings or the story-like ramblings of CAConrad, poetry inspires us.
People who read poetry are healthier
While you probably never read poetry for its health benefits—and probably never realized reading poetry can improve your health—it provides added incentive. Here are a few advantages of poetry:
- Reading poetry improves vocabulary and verbal dexterity. Poetry is usually difficult to understand the first time you read it. You have to analyze the meaning of the words to determine what the author is attempting to convey and why the author chose to communicate in such a manner.
- Memorizing poems improves long-term brain health and is linked to lower risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Reading poetry encourages critical thinking skills. Understanding poetry requires analysis, so it’s no surprise people who read poetry are more likely to analyze information for bias and viewpoint.
- Reading poetry develops empathy and insight. When a writer makes you connect with a situation or a character, you empathize.
- Writing poetry is therapeutic. By expressing your feelings through poetry, you can begin to understand and heal from past trauma.
- Writing poetry helps us become more self-aware by recognizing our internal thoughts and feelings.
- Writing poetry fosters creativity because of its emphasis on symbolism and imagery, as well as the constraints of the art form. Learning how to use rhythm and meter to express your thoughts and feelings encourages your mind to think in novel ways.
- Writing poetry involves searching for the perfect word, communication, and expressing yourself using rhythm and meter, all of which are processes that improve brain health.
- Poetry describes the indescribable moments of your life like nothing else.
- Poetry changes your perspective. As Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote, “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”
Make poetry a part of your life
If you haven’t read poetry in a while, try one of these poems from a list of the top 100 poems of all time:
- A Dream Within A Dream by Edgar Allan Poe
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
- Life is fine by Langston Hughes
- And The Moon And The Stars And The World by Charles Bukowski
- Daddy by Sylvia Plath
What’s your favorite poem?
At The Esquiline, residents read and write poetry for the love of poetry. Although intellectual wellness is a priority, residents rarely need encouragement to explore new books, games and learning opportunities, such as our German class.