At MOTW, Ian writes of why we should read, respect, and learn to appreciate poetry. No, not the self indulgent crap angsty teenagers put to paper, but the real stuff. Also not generally the shit they shoved down your throat at school - though several of them I ran into courtesy of english teachers have held up where the books and stories they tried to plug my mind with generally haven't.
Why should you care about it?
The Iliad, the Odyssey, the book of Psalms, the Song of Solomon, the Aeneid, just to name a few reasons to care. Poetry and song are intertwined, of course, and are a bedrock of all culture and civilization. Inasmuch as they are a bedrock, they are also a reflection thereof, a bellwether. Look at the likes of, say, Allan Ginsberg. Now, I’m certainly not a fan of Ginsberg’s content at this point in my life, but I cannot deny that he was extraordinarily talented. But if you want to see Boomer Culture as informed by a Silent, read Ginsberg. Postmodern to its core. It’s the very soil in which their culture was planted. Then compare that to say, a Frost, or an Eliot, both Modernists (well, some might get hung up on Frost but I put him in the Modernist camp due to chronology over content. He was more like me: two poetic generations behind his lifespan.)
Me, I can still rattle off Ozymandias, or Jabberwocky from memory, and it would not take much to get there with Kublah Khan again. An old collection of all of Kipling's verse, including the chapter headers for the jungle book, which my parents obtained before my memory is the only book with a permanent place on my desk.
Tolkein, of course, included a lot of poetry in his works - the rhythm and flow of which helps keep them in memory. Some of it also hides in plain sight - for example, in the lyrics of better written songs. Much of Sabaton's work is structured as such - just look at the lyrics to Uprising:
Do you remember when, when the Nazis forced their rule on Poland 1939 and the allies turned away From the underground rose a hope of freedom as a whisper City in despair, but they never lost their faith Women, men and children fight They were dying side by side And the blood they shed upon the streets Was a sacrifice willingly paid Warsaw city at war Voices from underground, whispers of freedom 1944 help that never came Calling Warsaw city at war Voices from underground, whispers of freedom Rise up and hear the call History calling to you, 'Warszawo, walcz!'
It explicitly opens as an epic poem telling a tale blanketed in myth. Not spoken as prose, the rhythm of the words gives them power and emotion utterly missing without it.
Poetry doesn't have to be short. Though I generally prefer shorter poems, The Rhyme of teh Ancient Mariner is outstanding, as is Maculay's Horatius at the Bridge.
Also - read poetry out loud. Even if you have to speak it quietly. As I said, good poetry evokes much of its power through the sound and rhythm - speaking it forces you to match that instead of skimming it over.