Picture the following two scenarios: The funeral procession of Henry V passes through Westminster Abbey, and the following remark is made: “The King from Eltham I intend to steal, / And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.” The second scenario is a physician who goes into an exam room and hears the patient talking about his “stomach pain,” intake of “spicy foods,” and his “use of Advil for headache relief.” These are two entirely unrelated scenarios, yes, but the shared theme is that both dialogues contain important clues to a bigger picture.
When my classmates ask me to recommend poems for reading, I am always thrilled to share my favorite poems. After sharing, I sometimes ask myself the following questions: What am I recommending exactly? How can reading poetry benefit my classmates? How has reading poetry helped me, if it even has? These are important questions to think about, particularly when thinking about how to prioritize reading poetry alongside other activities; this would not be unlike using triage to assign priority for treatments.