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“It reduces feelings of isolation and depression
As readers we take comfort in knowing we are not isolated in our struggles. Somebody has felt this way before! If you’re anxious, melancholy or grieving, the poet’s words mean that you no longer have to feel alone, and poetry can give hope for the future and even some excellent advice. Dorothy Parker’s splendid company at any time, but particularly if you’ve just been dumped.
It can boost your mood
Poetry isn’t just for leaning on during hard times. It’s a thrill to read a poem that encapsulates – more elegantly than we ever could – how it feels to be deliriously happy, or perfectly tranquil, or deeply in love. It’s one of the reasons that sharing poetry is so popular at weddings.
It can take you to the country in the heart of the city
A poem becomes an incantation to transport you from the humdrum daily world, an escape hatch from the commute, the queue and the waiting room. Choose verses about dancing daffodils, dappled things or stopping by woods on a snowy evening to provide yourself with a mental gulp of healthy fresh air, a magical five minute trip to the countryside while you pound the pavements.
It can calm you down
When I find I’m really about to lose my temper, counting to ten is good – but reciting a silly poem is better (out loud, it has the added benefit of getting the attention of tantrum-throwing children, but in your head is probably better for the platform when your train is delayed.) The poems from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland are my go-to for these times. It’s impossible to grit your teeth while mentally running through ‘You are old, Father William’s perky stanzas.
It can say what you can’t
Poems can also say something we might find difficult to, if we can’t find the words to comfort the bereaved, or are too bashful to talk about our affection. Candlestick Press (http://www.candlestickpress.co.uk) publish a range of beautiful pamphlets covering all manner of subjects from kindness and tea through friendship to cycling, which can be sent instead of a disposable greetings card and enjoyed over and over again.”