Why revisit a poem that we know quite well?
At the outset, let's be clear: poetry is not life. (Likewise, art is not life and books are not life.) We do not read poems in order to live.
But, at the risk of sounding highfalutin', I will go out on a limb and suggest that a good poem can do two things. First, it can help us to understand what it means to be a human being amidst other human beings. Second, it can give us an inkling of how we, as human beings, fit into the World -- the earthly paradise that surrounds us. A good poem puts us in our place. Thus, it makes sense to pay it a visit now and then.
James McIntosh Patrick (1907-1998), "Ashley Burn, Spring"
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too.
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
Philip Larkin, High Windows (Faber and Faber 1974).
I have no doubt that "The Trees" is well-loved by many people. But those of us who love it do so for reasons that are peculiar to each of us. Many of us may find the same phrases in the poem beautiful and moving: "Like something almost being said" or "Their greenness is a kind of grief" or "Yet still the unresting castles thresh" or (of course) "Begin afresh, afresh, afresh." But how we feel about those words arises out of our own separate lives.
Hence, any attempt to articulate the reasons for our love of the poem is doomed to failure. Our love is inextricably bound up with our life. Should you be so lucky as to cross the path of someone who tells you that they love "The Trees," it is best to say "Yes, I know what you mean" and leave it at that.
Besides, as I have often said, explanation and explication are the death of poetry. If someone attempted to explain to me that the beauty of "The Trees" lies in this-or-that aspect of its meter or in this-or-that aspect of its rhyme, I would regard them as the Grim Reaper of poetry.
I would instruct them to step outside, in May, and have a look at the trees.
James McIntosh Patrick, "City Garden" (1979)