Denise Levertov believed poetry’s social function was “to awaken sleepers by other means than shock”.
It's a lovely image, all the more so because it's true.
We all go through life half asleep. We have chores, obligations, commitments made long ago for purposes that are no longer very clear but whose consequences weigh heavy. We dream of freedom; freedom to start over, to try again differently. But we know we can't. So we do our best to make peace with our circumstances. The price we pay is slumber. Because we need to deaden our senses to get through what needs getting through.
But we yearn to be awake, fully awake. We can't not. We seek moments of light, hold them tight when they come. We feel the warmth of the sun on our skin, our senses temporarily alive with joy.
That is poetry. That yearning to be alive and to feel again.