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Poetry Quotations:
Blood & Veins, Heart,
Tears, Pain & Suffering



A vein of Poetry exists in the hearts of all men; no man is made altogether of Poetry. We are all poets when we read a poem as well. ~Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Poet," lecture, 1840


If Rilke cut himself shaving, he would bleed poetry. ~Stephen Spender, about Rainer Maria Rilke


Poetry is the sister of Sorrow. Every man that suffers and weeps is a poet; every tear is a verse, and every heart a poem. ~Marc André, quoted in A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness, collected and translated by J. De Finod, 1880


A poet rips his flesh on the thorn of language and bleeds raw ink onto paper petals. ~Terri Guillemets


There is a chord of poetry, I do believe, in all men; petrified and frozen up, it may be in too many, by the cold realities of this work-a-day world; yet, at times, that "touch of nature which makes the whole world kin," shoots like the electric spark through their veins, and thaws and softens the hard and care-worn heart. ~J. M'Dermaid, "Burns as a Poet," 1859


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, 1957 February 17th


Part of the spell of poetry is in the rhythm of language... Almost anything put into rhythm and rhyme is more memorable than the same thing said in prose. Why this is, no one knows completely, though the answer is surely rooted far down in the biology by means of which we exist; in the circulation of the blood that goes forth from the heart and comes back, and in the repetition of breathing. ~James Dickey, "How to enjoy poetry," from the 1979–1988 Power of the Printed Word advertising campaign by Billings S. Fuess, Jr. at Ogilvy & Mather for International Paper Company


Every poet would like, I fancy, to be able to think that he had some direct social utility.... to give an immediate compensation for the pains of turning blood into ink.... Poetry begins... with a savage beating a drum in a jungle... hyperbolically one might say that the poet is older than other human beings.... Poetry... may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate... ~T.S. Eliot, "The Use of Poetry," 1932


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 Poet's Journal, 1862


Many lyric poets have sensed a parallel between the rhythmic pulse of their blood and language in a poem, but it is of the essence of Kunitz' art that the threshold that transforms blood to ink is not tongue or mouth, but wound... ~Gregory Orr, Stanley Kunitz: An Introduction to the Poetry, 1985


Rejected by Hell, the exiled poet will try in vain to reinstate himself there, to be reinvigorated by his sufferings. ~E. M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist, 1956, translated from the French by Richard Howard  [a little altered —tg]


Sometimes the poet writes with fire; with blood
Sometimes; sometimes with blackest ink:
It matters not. God finds his mighty way
Into his verse...
~J.G. Holland, Kathrina: A Poem, "Part II: Love," 1867


I bleed words;
Ink drops, and
Poetry merges—
Blackish-crimson
Autobiography
~Terri Guillemets


Is blood then so much more eloquent than ink? Does a pistol-shot ring farther than a poem? ~A Californian, anonymous open letter to poet Vera Fitch, 1910 October 29th, in Town Talk: The Pacific Weekly, San Francisco, 1910 November 12th, "Correspondence" [Written after Miss Fitch attempted suicide. "You came to New York to beard the lions of this brutal metropolis with a few frail songs in your hand and a great hope in your heart.... Yes, why should your little pistol bring you fame when your pen could not?" Because you "are just such a romantic victim as this unromantic Moloch of a city loves—to chew. You have brought it blood, and there is nothing it loves more than blood, unless it be beauty." –tg]


Ink kisses
dripping crimson words
and with blood-red lips
leaves prints on her finest poetry.
~Terri Guillemets


To form the complete poet, neither heart only, nor head only, is sufficient; the complete poet must have a heart in his brain, or a brain in his heart. ~George Darley


There can be poetry in the writings of a few men; but it ought to be in the hearts and lives of all. ~John Sterline


True poets are those who have received from God, together with the gift of expression, the power of penetrating further than others into the things of the heart and the life. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)


Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. ~Dennis Gabor


Poetry mends a broken arrow then shoots us in the heart with it. ~Terri Guillemets, "Love, life, poetry," 2016


The flowery Path of Poetry but ill accords with the thorny Mazes of the Law; in the one I have wandered with rapture from Infancy, and I have endeavoured to grace the other with a simple but lasting Ornament — Integrity of Heart. ~Charles Snart, "Dedication, to Robert Lowe, Esq. Oxton," 1807 January 1st, Newark, Selection of Poems


Poetry often brings consolation to the heart which prose has failed to touch... ~Luigi, 1884 [Luigi is pseudonym for a still-unknown female compiler. –tg]


Pleasant images in pleasant words...
of hope, and love, and melody,
the gushings of an overburdened heart...
~James Gates Percival (1795–1856), "Love of Study," c.1822 [a little altered –tg]


[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


...poetry to make tears flow that would otherwise be poisonous if swallowed... ~Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop, 2013, translated by Simon Pare, 2015


"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


Her skull was cracked—
not tragically, just poetically.
It's how the poems got in,
      —and out.
~Terri Guillemets, "Cracked," 1994
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"


Emily:  Most people quote love poems.
Ben:  Nah, I prefer a dirge. It's like a different kind of love poem.
~Rachel Axler and Alena Smith, "A brief, but patient illness," Dickinson, 2019  [S1, E6 —tg]


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



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