I love poetry best when it's a thread in the web of literary cross-references. Right now I'm reading a wonderful novel, Thorofare by Christopher Morley, and an intriguing quotation within its pages sent me off in quest of the source. I found it was from Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," which I ended up reading and enjoying a good deal. But what's more, all throughout it I kept coming upon other lines and references familiar to me from their having appeared in other books I've read through the years. It's kind of like running into an old friend—or, more accurately, it's like seeing a familiar face in an old movie, discovering it actually belongs to a rather famous actor and saying, "Oh, so that's who that is!"
Coleridge and Co. might be a little underwhelmed by that analogy, but yes, that's what it's like.