Here is a bridge across a river. Here is a poem on a sheet of paper. Which is useful and which is useless?
Actually, neither is inherently useful or useless. The bridge is useful to me if I want to cross it. The poem is useful to me if I want the experience of reading it.
I have arrived at this conclusion because I have been thinking about the uselessness of poetry. I am among the millions who write poetry and my poems are among the hundreds of millions that will never be read by anybody other than the author and perhaps one or two other people.
This is the case even if poems have been published in a book or in literary journals, as mine have. Some of my poems were broadcast on the radio, too, so I suppose for half a minute or so they had a wider audience. I suppose that a few listeners must have found the experience rewarding.
I am not sure that this provides a sufficient reason for writing poetry, any more than one could make a strong case for building a bridge that is crossed, perhaps, by one person every two years.
Still, if the bridge builder derives satisfaction from the work itself and if whoever crosses the bridge on rare occasions derives satisfaction from that, I suppose the isolated bridge has a usefulness to builder and user.
For the writer of poetry it is the experience of writing and crafting that has to be enough. If that is not enough, then give it up. That's my conclusion so far anyway. More on this at a later time, maybe