Poetry Quotes: Tears, Pain & Suffering

[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)

There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only poets know.
~William Cowper

“That’s the way of poets,” said Warrington. “They fall in love, jilt, or are jilted; they suffer, and they cry out that they suffer more than any other mortals: and when they have experienced feelings enough, they note them down in a book, and take the book to market. All poets are humbugs, all literary men are humbugs; directly a man begins to sell his feelings for money he’s a humbug. If a poet gets a pain in his side from too good a dinner, he bellows Ai, Ai, louder than Prometheus.” ~William Makepeace Thackeray, The History of Pendennis, 1850

A poet is an unhappy being whose heart is torn by secret sufferings, but whose lips are so strangely formed that when the sighs and the cries escape them, they sound like beautiful music… and then people crowd about the poet and say to him: “Sing for us soon again;” that is as much as to say, “May new sufferings torment your soul.” ~Søren Kierkegaard

You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone. ~John Ciardi, Simmons Review, Fall 1962

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 cries melodic tears of verse. ~Terri Guillemets

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

Soldiers in the war of poetry
Bleed silky rose petals and glittering thorns
And leave behind beautiful inked destruction—
Embattled souls wounded, and healed.
~Terri Guillemets

There’s so much prose in life that now and then,
A tender song of pity stirs the heart,
A simple lay of love from fevered pen,
Makes in some soul the unshed tear-drops start.
Sing, poets! sing for aye your sweetest strain,
For life without its poetry were vain!
~S.J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925), The Zankiwank & The Bletherwitch, 1896

Poetry should never hurt. It may stab you with poetic pangs of melancholy but shouldn’t ever hurt as life does. ~Terri Guillemets