“I dig old books.”
Quotations about Poetry
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. ~Leonard Cohen
Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket. ~Charles Simic
In poetry and in eloquence the beautiful and grand must spring from the commonplace.... All that remains for us is to be new while repeating the old, and to be ourselves in becoming the echo of the whole world. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
I am looking for a poem that says Everything so I don't have to write anymore. ~Tukaram
The only problem
with Haiku is that you just
get started and then
To have great poets there must be great audiences too. ~Walt Whitman
Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out.... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure. ~A.E. Housman
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind. ~Thomas Babington Macaulay
Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal which the reader recognizes as his own. ~Salvatore Quasimodo
You can't write poetry on the computer. ~Quentin Tarantino
Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young. ~Sainte-Beuve, Portraits littéraires, 1862
Poets are mysterious, but a poet when all is said is not much more mysterious than a banker. ~Allen Tate
Before men ever wrote in clay they cast their words in verse and line, rhythmbound in poets' minds, defying time and age. ~Dave Beard
You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you. ~Joseph Joubert
God is the perfect poet. ~Robert Browning
Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know. ~Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest
Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. ~Carl Sandburg
A poem is never finished, only abandoned. ~Paul Valéry
Poetry is never abandoned, it is only remixed. ~James Schwartz
"Most poems are never finished," (I was defensive). He sighed: "No, most poems are never started." ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
The poet needs to admire; he is in a merely human sense the high priest of the true, the beautiful, the grand. On whatever side he spreads his wings it is his mission to bear the universal homage to these worthy objects, or to some ideas of them. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
The worst fate of a poet is to be admired without being understood. ~Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel á l'ordre, 1926
Poetry is life distilled. ~Gwendolyn Brooks
Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. ~Thomas Gray
He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise. ~Oscar Wilde
Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. ~Robert Frost
You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone. ~John Ciardi, Simmons Review, Fall 1962
Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life. ~William Hazlitt
Poetry is the tunnel at the end of the light. ~J. Patrick Lewis, www.jpatricklewis.com
A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote. ~Yevgeny Yentushenko, The Sole Survivor, 1982
"What are you going to read—something of Tennyson?"... And with a honeysuckle that Margaret remembered, for a bookmark, he found the place he wanted, and opened at "Elaine," that loveliest of the idyls, and began to read.... It was a charmed hour. Lawrence Brook was a fine reader, and delighted in poetry. It touched his own heart, and had power over him, and so he received the power himself to touch all other hearts the same. Even the first three lines came to Margaret as a revelation of something fair in life she had not recognized, and her hands paused in their work, and her earnest eyes and breathless attention followed Lawrence Brook with every word he uttered.... Her quick imagination and sensitive heart seized upon the poem and its beauty as if it were a gift which now might be possessed forever. ~August Bell, "Quicksands of Love," 1887
If it doesn't work horizontally as prose...
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself. ~E.M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, 1951
[T]he poetic soul... a living lyre, it only lives enough to echo, and all that it has of life it pours out, and spends in song: the inspiring tripod which the poet ascends, at once unites him to, and separates him from, society. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. ~T.S. Eliot, Dante, 1920
Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows. ~Edmund Burke
Lyres are placid in the hands of poets; but the true lyre is the poet himself. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things. ~Robert Frost
Poetry, like the moon, does not advertise anything. ~William Blissett
The poet sees things as they look. Is this having a faculty the less? or a sense the more? ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree. ~Terri Guillemets
Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes. ~Author Unknown
Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. ~Robert Frost
A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. ~Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957
I had rather be a Kitten, and cry mew,
Than one of these same Meeter Ballad-mongers:
I had rather heare a Brazen Candlestick turn'd,
Or a dry Wheele grate on the Axle-tree,
And that would set my teeth nothing an edge,
Nothing so much, as mincing Poetrie...
~William Shakespeare, Henry the Fourth (Hot-spurre)
Poetry is prose, bent out of shape. ~J. Patrick Lewis, www.jpatricklewis.com
Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing. ~James Tate
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. Dead Poet's Society
[I]t is not health, it is convalescence that is poetical. Just as certain plants only yield all their fragrance to the fingers that crush them, so it is only in a state of suffering that certain affections utter all their poetry. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
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. ~T.S. Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent, 1919
[Poetry] feeds on the purest substance of the sentiments of the soul. It quenches its thirst with a nectar that has no dregs. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
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. ~Paul Engle, New York Times, 17 February 1957
[T]rue poets... can pierce through the clouds to the light, and save the purity of their inspiration from the general disorder. It is refreshing to read them, delightful to steep ourselves in their truthful poetry. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
I don't create poetry, I create myself, for me my poems are a way to me. ~Edith Södergran
There is as much difference between good poetry and fine verses, as between the smell of a flower-garden and of a perfumer's shop. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
Mr Witwould: "Pray, madam, do you pin up your hair with all your letters? I find I must keep copies."
Mrs Millamant: "Only with those in verse.... I never pin up my hair with prose."
~William Congreve, The Way of the World
Follow Terri Guillemets' board Words Remix on Pinterest.
I would as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down. ~Robert Frost, 1935
A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin. ~Edmond de Goncourt
Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts. ~Robinson Jeffers
The history of poetry is not exclusively and identically the history of works written in verse. Poetry dwells in prose writings as well; nay, is necessarily met with there, for poetry is less a class of writings than a breath unequally but generally diffused throughout literature: it is whatever raises us from the real to the ideal; whatever brings the prosaic in contact with our imaginations; whatever in any intellectual work echoes within the soul; it is the beauty of all beautiful things; it penetrates into spheres apparently most foreign to it; and what Voltaire has said of happiness may be equally said of poetry,—"She resembles fire, whose gentle heat secretly insinuates itself into all other elements, descends into rocks, rises in the cloud, reddens the coral in the sand of the seas, and lives in icicles that winters have hardened." ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
He who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite. ~Edward Bulwer-Lytton
The word "Verse" is used here as the term most convenient for expressing, and without pedantry, all that is involved in the consideration of rhythm, rhyme, meter, and versification... the subject is exceedingly simple; one tenth of it, possibly may be called ethical; nine tenths, however, appertains to the mathematics. ~Edgar Allan Poe
Poetry is creative; to be a poet is to remake the universe. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times. ~Randall Jarrell
Any healthy man can go without food for two days — but not without poetry. ~Charles Baudelaire
In many cases these verses will seem to the reader like poetry torn up by the roots, with rain and dew and earth still clinging to them, giving a freshness and a fragrance not otherwise to be conveyed. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Preface to Poems by Emily Dickinson Edited by Two of Her Friends, Mabel Loomis Todd and T.W. Higginson, ©1890
I hate French poetry. What measured glitter! ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897, spoken by the character Heinrich Heine
The pleasure that poetry gives is that of imagining more than is written; the task is divided between the poet and his reader. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Here he had read to me his tear-stained page
Of sorrow... here would try
To lay his burden in the hands of Song,
And make the Poet bear the Lover's wrong,
But still his heart impatiently would cry:
"In vain, in vain! You cannot teach to flow
In measured lines so measureless a woe.
First learn to slay this wild beast of despair,
Then from his harmless jaws your honey tear!"
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"
Poetry is perfect verbs hunting for elusive nouns. ~J. Patrick Lewis, www.jpatricklewis.com
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Possibilities," 1997, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak
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. ~Robert Penn Warren, Saturday Review, 22 March 1958
'There is correct English: that is not slang.'
'I beg your pardon: correct English is the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the strongest slang of all is the slang of poets.'
...'Aha, Miss Rosy, you don't know Homer from slang. I shall invent a new game; I shall write bits of slang and poetry on slips, and give them to you to separate.'
'Dear me, how amusing it is to hear young people talk!' said Mrs Vincy, with cheerful admiration.
~George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Volume I, Book I—Miss Brooke, 1871
[I]n every part of this eastern world, from Pekin to Damascus, the popular teachers of moral wisdom have immemorially been poets... ~Sir William Jones, "On the Philosophy of the Asiaticks" (eleventh anniversary discourse, delivered 1794 February 20th)
Without philosophy there can be no true poetry: without it pretty verses may, indeed, be made; but in order to be really a poet it is essential to be also, up to a certain point, a philosopher. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
A poem should not mean
~Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica, 1926
Your prayer can be poetry, and poetry can be your prayer. ~Terri Guillemets
The world is full of poetry—the air
Is living with its spirit; and the waves
Dance to the music of its melodies,
And sparkle in its brightness.
~James G. Percival
Theodore—"I was at first afraid that he was one of those numerous poets who have driven poetry from the earth, one of those stringers of sham pearls who can see nothing in the world but the last syllables of words, and who when they have rhymed glade with shade, flame with name, and God with trod, conscientiously cross their legs and arms and suffer the spheres to complete their revolution."
Rosette—"He is not one of those. His verses are inferior to him and do not contain him. What he has written would give you a very false idea of his own person; his true poem is himself, and I do not know whether he will ever compose another. In the recesses of his soul he has a seraglio of beautiful ideas which he surrounds with a triple wall, and of which he is more jealous than was ever sultan of his odalisques. He only puts those into his verses which he does not care about or which have repulsed him; it is the door through which he drives them away, and the world has only those which he will keep no longer." ~Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin, 1835
It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it. ~W.H. Auden
~Muriel Rukeyser, quoted in Highs by Alex J. Packer
I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. ~Pablo Neruda, quoted in Wall Street Journal,, 14 November 1985
Invariably pure and austere, poets mostly
starve to death embracing empty mountains,
and when white clouds have no master,
they just drift off, idle thoughts carefree.
Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind. ~Maxwell Bodenheim
[Man] asks from prose, only under a more obscure and indefinite form, what he expects from poetry; and indeed, where is the actual boundary between poetry and prose? and how can one help owning that prose is but poetry gradually but never entirely extinguished or calmed down? ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
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. ~Dylan Thomas, Poetic Manifesto, 1961
Poetry is not always words. ~Terri Guillemets
Poets aren't very useful
Because they aren't consumeful or very produceful.
If you got to talking to most cowboys, they'd admit they write 'em. I think some of the meanest, toughest sons of bitches around write poetry. ~Ross Knox
The desert attracts the nomad, the ocean the sailor, the infinite the poet. ~Author Unknown
You're not quite sure what it means but the words are so beautiful you know it must be profound. ~Terri Guillemets
What is a Professor of Poetry? How can poetry be professed? ~W.H. Auden
Poets are candid. They tell us not under an abstract, but an individual form, in which reality breathes, what humanity thinks in the most secret recesses of its mind. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
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. ~Allen Ginsberg
Sunshine cannot bleach the snow,
Nor time unmake what poets know.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes
Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie. ~Jean Cocteau
If Rilke cut himself shaving, he would bleed poetry. ~Stephen Spender, about Rainer Maria Rilke
Mathematics and Poetry are... the utterance of the same power of imagination, only that in the one case it is addressed to the head, in the other, to the heart. ~Thomas Hill
The lamp you lighted in the olden time
Will show you my heart's-blood beating through the rhyme:
A poet's journal, writ in fire and tears...
Then slow deliverance, with the gaps of years...
~Bayard Taylor, "First Evening"
The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim. It is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes. ~W. Somerset Maugham
Poets touch forcibly and truly that invisible lyre which echoes in unison in all human souls. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847), paraphrase
A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses. ~Jean Cocteau
Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale 'til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proof. ~Rene Char
[A poem] begins in delight and ends in wisdom. ~Robert Frost, "The Figure a Poem Makes," Collected Poems of Robert Frost, 1939
Poetry comes with anger, hunger and dismay; it does not often visit groups of citizens sitting down to be literary together, and would appall them if it did. ~Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe
The poet, as everyone knows, must strike his individual note sometime between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. He may hold it a long time, or a short time, but it is then that he must strike it or never. School and college have been conducted with the almost express purpose of keeping him busy with something else till the danger of his ever creating anything is past. ~Robert Frost
The ugly is in poetry only a passing shadow. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
A sold poem loses half its meaning. ~Terri Guillemets
Can [poets] do anything but gradually ascend towards the source, towards the primitive ideas that bind together man—the family and society—with a different cement to that of science and of law? Long will it be ere poetry can solder together the fragments of its falling sceptre; but these fragments are beautiful, and in the present day he who succeeds in picking up one of them will be a king among us. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Like butterflies in Spring
Poetry awakens the Spirit,
stirs the imagination and explores
the possibilities with each stroke of its rhythmic wings.
~Jamie Lynn Morris
The poetry of a given age teaches us less what it has, than what it wants and what it loves. It is a living medal, where the concavities in the die are transformed into convexities on the bronze or gold. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
[P]oets are masters of us ordinary men, in knowledge of the mind, because they drink at streams which we have not yet made accessible to science. ~Sigmund Freud, quoted in A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations by Alan L. Mackay, 1991
Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. ~Edgar Allan Poe
Does not poetry itself lose somewhat in detaching itself so entirely from the reality whence it proceeds, and fixing itself thus solitary in aërial heights? ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. ~Robert Frost
It sometimes seems to me (it is an error, I confess, but one into which I am for ever falling) that poetry is no longer anything more than an imitation of poetry... ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
If Painting be Poetry's sister, she can only be a sister Anne, who will see nothing but a flock of sheep, while the other bodies forth a troop of dragoons with drawn sabres and white-plumed helmets. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. ~Carl Sandburg
We may conceive, and we even know by experience, another kind of poetry... a poetry whose accents, properly speaking, are not those of one man, but of the human race; which tells not what an individual has felt, but what has been felt by the human being ever since the fall that destroyed the simplicity of his nature, and perhaps, by that very fact, created all that is poetry...
When Innocence retreated tearfully from our earth, she met Poetry on the threshold; they passed close by, looked at each other, and each went her way,—the one to heaven, the other to the dwellings of men.
~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth. ~Samuel Johnson
Our poetry in the eighteenth century was prose; our prose in the seventeenth, poetry. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
I've written some poetry I don't understand myself. ~Carl Sandburg
The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. ~Jean Cocteau
[P]oetry, that pearl of intelligence and life, reflects on our brow some pale rays of the glory that has faded away from it. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. ~Don Marquis
Come voyeur my poems
Feel free, I feel free.
~Carrie Latet, 2007
No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers. ~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires
It is vain for the sober man to knock at poesy's door. ~Plato
[P]oetry... folds its wings at the rough contact of reality... it feels in one sense much more, and in another much less, than the soul engaged with reality... ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats
[P]oetry shares our misery, it is agitated with all our uneasiness; like us, it goes, comes, flies, never rests. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
Poetry is frosted fire. ~J. Patrick Lewis, www.jpatricklewis.com
If you know what you are going to write when you're writing a poem, it's going to be average. ~Derek Walcott
The poet sees and selects from on high and afar, and hardly inquires about what is near at hand. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
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Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~G.K. Chesterton
Dear Lady, I beg you
To cook as you please,
But don't overlook the
Importance of cheese!
~Ruth McCrea, The ABC of Cheese Cookery, 1961
Shall I compare thee to a blue veined cheese
thou art more moldy and more curdly blue
~Barry Hopkins, "Sonnet 18⅔" (allpoetry.com/Black_Narcissus)
A furniture maker by trade, James McIntyre turned his hand to poetry in order to help others appreciate the many wonders of Canada as he viewed them. Key among them: cheese. Few could argue with his rationale; to wit, "it is no insignificant theme." ~Kathryn Petras and Ross Petras, Very Bad Poetry, 1997 [McIntyre (1827–1906) is known as The Cheese Poet.
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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
Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful. ~Rita Dove
The poet... may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather. ~Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination, 1950
If you've got a poem within you today, I can guarantee you a tomorrow. ~Terri Guillemets
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep. ~Salman Rushdie
Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. ~Dennis Gabor