The Benefits of Reading Poetry

4 min readOct 30, 2019


The thought of poetry alone is enough to make most people (teenagers and adults) groan in annoyance, as they remember struggling to comprehend the obscure messages behind a poem for an exam, assignment or unit of work. This ignorance and potential disdain for poetry that is built within our society is making the art form less relevant and less relied on.

However, if these people can see past poetry being a burdensome task, they can truly learn to appreciate how poems can express feelings and emotions so profoundly and hence, view poetry as both enjoyable and a powerful tool.

How most people feel when thinking about poetry

Consider the following segment from Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, “First Elegy”, retrieved from The Cut:

“… For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror
which we are barely able to endure and are awed
because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Each single angel is terrifying.”

Even though the paragraph may seem complex and a waste of time and effort to read for some people, the messages I receive from that are quite relatable and profound. I would assume that the paragraph is addressing the seductive nature of beauty and how you cannot put complete trust and have complete understanding of someone or something. However, the wonderful (and potentially irritating) thing with poetry is that people can have very different interpretations of what poets are trying to say in their poems. When I read poems, for example, I find pleasure in ultimately finding the main purpose and messages of a poem by rereading certain sections repeatedly, thinking over those lines and then synthesising the information.

In addition, poems are written by people so they can express certain feelings and ideas in their own unique way. For example, read the following poem called “It was not Death, for I stood up” by Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most famous poets:

“It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down —
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.

It was not Frost, for on my Flesh

I felt Siroccos — crawl —
Nor Fire — for just my Marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool —

And yet, it tasted, like them all,
The Figures I have seen
Set orderly, for Burial,
Reminded me, of mine —

As if my life were shaven,
And fitted to a frame,
And could not breathe without a key,
And ’twas like Midnight, some –

When everything that ticked — has stopped —
And Space stares — all around —
Or Grisly frosts — first Autumn morns,
Repeal the Beating Ground —

But, most, like Chaos — Stopless — cool —
Without a Chance, or Spar —
Or even a Report of Land —
To justify — Despair.”

This poem talks of the depression and pain Emily faced in her life and being the overly reclusive person she was, she typically wrote poems to express the emotions she was feeling at the time, rather than through socialising.

Poetry is a very useful tool in expressing one’s emotions

Poetry being able to express oneself in a deep and profound way can be very useful to the reader as well, especially if that person is also affected by emotional or psychological issues. Through the poem, that person can develop a connection with Emily and feel like he or she is not alone. This article further explains how poetry could help depression, as well as other mental health problems, as the art form enables us to easily “express our feelings, experiences and struggles through creative expression”. This allows some of the stress, pain and trauma built within us to be released and in turn, could act as a therapeutic technique in conquering mental illnesses.

Poetry could also be described as “one of the most powerful forms of therapy”, according to this article. Poetry possesses “powerful healing qualities” through its ability to acknowledge and express our innermost thoughts and emotions, increasing one’s self-worth and allowing people to cope with certain issues. It has even been used by professional doctors in hospitals and places of war to help their patients recover.

Reading and writing poetry can be very therapeutic and beneficial

Overall, I believe that while poetry may seem intimidating, complicated and irrelevant at first, once you realise that reading and writing poems shouldn’t be a burden, but instead a gift of joy and utility, then you will truly appreciate poetry for what it is.


Delistraty, C., 2017. This Is What Happens to Your Brain When You Read Poetry. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2019].

Shah, B., 2018. Why poetry is one of the most powerful forms of therapy. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2019].

Smith, J., 2018. How Poetry Helps Depression and Could End Depression Stigma. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 30 October 2019].