Reading poetry increases activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is associated with reflection, making connections and creating new thoughts. New research actually shows that classic literature such as the works of Wordsworth and Shakespeare are brain boosters that have a beneficial effect on the mind, triggering valuable moments of self-reflection, creativity and contextualising.
Using scanners that monitor brain activity, academics at Liverpool University compared brain activity when volunteers read the classics as opposed to translated, more modern versions of the same material. The scans showed that the classics set off much more prolonged electrical activity in the brain, especially when volunteers encountered more challenging words or phrases. Apparently the affects are as good, if not better, than self-help books.