Why is poetry important?

Poetry can help us to get in touch with our feelings. It can help us come to terms with the grim reality of life on earth. It can also make us laugh. It can help us celebrate how beautiful the world is. It's memorable if it's any good and lines sink into our consciousness and come back to us - like this weekend - we were driving along a country road and I suddenly said "In full grown thickness every May" which is a line from Larkin's poem 'The Trees'. When my mother was very old and had dementia and could hardly remember anything and could hardly enjoy anything I used to read to her from an anthology of poems she'd won as a school prize - and I knew which ones she liked because she used to read them to me when I was little. And what happened was when I read her these poems she'd known when she was young she would join in - she would remember them and join in, though she could hardly remember anything else, and she would laugh at the funny ones. It was wonderful.

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