Topics Poetry Quotations
Quotes on the subjects of Poetry, poems, and poets.
- Always be a poet, even in prose.
- Charles Baudelaire "My Heart Laid Bare" Intimate Journals, (1864)
- A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.
- René Char, as quoted in The French-American Review (1976) by Texas Christian University, p. 132
- Variant translation: A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Only traces bring about dreams.
- As quoted in Popular Dissent, Human Agency, and Global Politics (2000) by Roland Bleiker, p. 50
- Poets and anarchists are always the first to go. Where. To the frontline. Wherever it is.
- Giannina Braschi, Yo-Yo Boing!
- An undevout poet is an impossibility.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton
- If you examine the highest poetry in the light of common sense, you can only say that it is rubbish; and in actual fact you cannot so examine it at all, because there is something in poetry which is not in the words themselves, which is not in the images suggested by the words 'O windy star blown sideways up the sky!' True poetry is itself a magic spell which is a key to the ineffable.
- Aleister Crowley Eight Lectures on Yoga
- I'm a poetry–skipper myself. I don't like to boast, but I have probably skipped more poetry than any other person of my age and weight in this country — make it any other two persons. This doesn't mean that I hate poetry. I don't feel that strongly about it. It only means that those who wish to communicate with me by means of the written word must do so in prose.
- Will Cuppy, How to Get From January to December (1951)
- A poem is a naked person . . . some people say that I am a poet.
- You don't have to write anything down to be a poet. Some work in gas stations. Some shine shoes. I don't really call myself one because I don't like the word. Me? I'm a trapeze artist.
- It is a test (a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively), that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
- T. S. Eliot, in Dante (1929)
- There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. ... To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Nature (1836)
- The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
- James Fenton (b. 1949), English poet, journalist and literary critic. The Independent on Sunday, 24th June 1990
- The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
- Robert Frost The Figure a Poem Makes (1939) Preface to Collected Poems
- Poetry is the mother-tongue of the human race.
- Johann Georg Hamann, Sämtliche Werken, ed. Josef Nadler (Vienna: Verlag Herder, 1949-1957), vol. II, p. 197
- Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out … and perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
- A. E. Housman The Name and Nature of Poetry(1933)
- Poetry: play on words.
- Yahia Lababidi (b. 1973). Signposts to Elsewhere (2008)
- Many a bard's untimely death
Lends unto his verses breath;
Here's a song was never sung:
Growing old is dying young.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay in "To a Poet Who Died Young" in Second April (1921), p. 52
- The bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you'd pissed off some witch, then what's she gonna do, she's gonna put a curse on you, and what's gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk's gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that — no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skillful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it's a particularly good bard, and he's written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you're dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.
- Alan Moore in "The Craft" - interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005)
- Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
- Novalis, as quoted in Quote, Unquote (1989) by Jonathan Williams, p. 136
- A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.
- Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses (1988)
- A poem works or fails to work; no amount of argufying can convert an experienced reader.
- Michael Schmidt, From ‘Getting poetry published’, in, Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook (2004)
- A poet looks at the world somewhat as a man looks at a woman.
- Wallace Stevens Opus Posthumous (1955) "Adagia"
- My life has been the poem I would have writ,
But I could not both live and utter it.
- Henry David Thoreau A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers (1849) My Life Has Been a Poem I Would Have Writ
- Our Poets make us laugh at Tragœdy,
And with their Comoedies they make us cry.
- George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, The Rehearsal (1671)
- A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer... He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring
- E. B. White One Man's Meat (1942) "Poetry"
- It is difficult
to get the news from poems
- yet men die miserably every day
- for lack
- for lack
- yet men die miserably every day
- of what is found there.
- Many questions haven't been answered as yet. Our poets may be wrong; but what can any of us do with his talent but try to develop his vision, so that through frequent failures we may learn better what we have missed in the past.
- William Carlos Williams, in an interview with Stanley Koehler (April 1962), in The Paris Review : Writers at Work, 3rd series, Viking Penguin, p. 29
- All poets are superior/ To 'Rithmetic's best guys./ They work with all the Alphabet/ Not just the 'X' and 'y'
- J. Byron Kennedy
- As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.
- Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie.
- Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
- He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.
- He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.
- I think one of poetry’s functions is not to give us what we want... [T]he poet isn’t always of use to the tribe. The tribe thrives on the consensual. The tribe is pulling together to face the intruder who threatens it. Meanwhile, the poet is sitting by himself in the graveyard talking to a skull.
- In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their center. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by Singularity—it should strike the Reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a Remembrance-l" Its touches of Beauty should never be half way thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural natural too him—shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the Luxury of twilight—but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
- John Keats, Letter to John Taylor, 27th Febrary 1818
- Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
- Kahlil Gibran
- Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
- Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.
- Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
- Honesty is the best poetry.
- Gregory Alan Elliott
- Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
- Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
- Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.
- Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does.
- Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.
- Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.
- Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.
- Poetry is the best of any language.
- Nathaniel Wenger
- Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.
- Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.
- Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.
- Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own.
- Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.
- Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
- Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
- Poetry is well versed at enlivening the prosaic.
- Leonid S. Sukhorukov
- Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words..
- Poetry... should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
- Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know.
- Joseph Roux
- The poem is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see-it is, rather, a light by which we may see-and what we see is life.
- The poet doesn't invent. He listens.
- The poet is in the end probably more afraid of the dogmatist who wants to extract the message from the poem and throw the poem away than he is of the sentimentalist who says, "Oh, just let me enjoy the poem.
- There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.
- There's no poetry in money, but then there's no money in poetry, either.
- To have great poets, there must be great audiences.
- Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.
- Theodor Adorno.
- You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick... You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps... so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.
- You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.
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