(Actually, I probably would, if I hadn’t lost the entire thing in a hard drive crash ages ago. Back up your stuff, fellow writers!)
To me, it’s one potential avenue for world-building, a way to provide depth and backstory. The poetry, as long as it’s at least passable, reinforces the story, and the story lends weight to the poem.
Treated as a recurring threat (a la The King in Yellow), it can link otherwise independent stories into a larger mythos.
As a one-time D&D player, little pleased me in a module more than seeing that old, moldering library have not just “books” but a list of tomes found. (It encouraged me to sometimes invent my own fictional fiction, too.)
Authors of such works, if they’d made an appearance earlier, can show up later in the story. “Oh, I’ve learned so much since that was written!” Or, like in the new Fantastic Beasts movies, show the field work that led to the textbook named over and over in the Harry Potter books.
Even if just used as references, it can add immediate depth if, for instance, the greats of your world’s literature have names.
All that being said, it’s only one tool in a toolbox to make a world feel lived in. Customs, naming conventions, peculiarities of law, varieties of dress, any of these can individually make the background seem more alive.
And, as always, it’s far more important to finish telling the story than it is to spiral into a never-ending vortex of worldbuilding. Perfect is pretty. Done is beautiful.
Have you ever dabbled in inventing your own literature for your worlds?
Exercise: One shortcut to worldbuilding this way might be to take a recognizable fairytale or parable and remake it in your world’s form. For instance, Beauty and the Beast might become Princess and the Werewolf. Take a common phrase or well-known story and twist it into your world’s setting.
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