I thought this would be the perfect poem to begin with - US former Laureate Billy Collins arguing for the understanding of poems.
Forget what you've been told. You don't have to dissect the language, analyse the theme, de-code the metaphors, worry about things like iambic pentameter or read the critics, to understand the poem. You simply let it say to you what it wants to say. You listen. You trust your gut on what it is saying to you, nothing else.
Poetry is personal. And the beauty of a poem is that it cannot be defined by one singular explanation. A poem is continually adapting to readers' opinions. Like a multi-faceted diamond, it has many shining angles.
Have trouble understanding a poem? Instead of beating it with a hose, try feeling around its wall for a light. You will find it eventually.
Introduction to Poetry - Billy Collins
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.