WHY should one read Poetry? That seems to me a good deal like asking: Why should one eat? One eats because one has to, to support life, but every time one sits down to dinner one does not say, ‘I must eat this meal so that I may not die.’ On the contrary, we eat because we are hungry, and so eating appears to us as a pleasant and desirable thing to do.
The necessity for poetry is one of the most fundamental traits of the human race. But naturally we do not take that into account, any more than we take into account that dinner, and the next day again, dinner is the condition of our remaining alive. Without poetry the soul and heart of man starves and dies.
The only difference between them is that all men know, if they turn their minds to it, that without food they would die, and comparatively few people know that without poetry they would die.
– Amy Lowell
You might replace the word poetry with the word education, and it would read just as well. The problem is surely that while most people realize that without food they will die, not enough people realize that without training and education their minds will whither – or, in the case of children, will never get the chance to blossom and develop.