Poems and Poetry

“Writing poetry is like stringing random pearls.” —Hafez

string of pearlsWith Shakespeare and poetry, a new world was born. New dreams, new desires, a self consciousness was born. I desired to know myself in terms of the new standards set by these books. —Peter Abrahams

A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically. —Diane Ackerman

Poetry is a search for ways of communication; it must be conducted with openness, flexibility, and a constant readiness to listen. —Fleur Adcock

A sold poem loses half its meaning. —Glade Byron Addams

Poets are like magicians, searching for magical phrases to pull rabbits out of people’s souls. —Glade Byron Addams

Happiness is sharing a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry with a shade tree. The tree doesn’t eat much and doesn’t read much, but listens well and is a most gracious host. —Astrid Alauda

We humans are at our best when we enjoy poetry . . . Sometimes all you need is to reflect in your mind one poem that says, “I can make it through.” —Maya Angelou

Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it. —Hannah Arendt

Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular. —Aristotle

The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse . . . the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars. —Aristotle, On Poetics

Poetry is more philosophical and of higher value than history; for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. —Aristotle

A poet must never make a statement simply because it is poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true. —W. H. Auden

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

What is a Professor of Poetry? How can poetry be professed? —W. H. Auden

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. —W. H. Auden

One demands two things of a poem: Firstly, it must be a well-made verbal object that does honor to the language in which it is written. Secondly, it must say something significant about a reality common to us all, but perceived from a unique perspective. What the poet says has never been said before, but, once he has said it, his readers recognize its validity for themselves. —W. H. Auden

Love is the poetry of the senses. —Honoré de Balzac

Real poetry is to lead a beautiful life. To live poetry is better than to write it. —Matsuo Basho

Always be a poet, even in prose. —Charles Baudelaire, “My Heart Laid Bare,” Intimate Journals, 1864

Any healthy man can go without food for two days; but not without poetry. —Charles Baudelaire

The essentials of poetry are rhythm, dance, and the human voice. —Earle Birney

Poetry, like the moon, does not advertise anything. —William Blissett

Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind. —Maxwell Bodenheim

Only the poet has any right to be sorry for the poor, if he has anything to spare when he has thought of the dull, commonplace rich. —William Bolitho

Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song. —Jorge Luis Borges

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue
Who says my hand a needle better fits;
A poet’s pen all scorn I should thus wrong,
For such despite they cast on female wits.
If what I do prove well, it won’t advance;
They’ll say it’s stol’n, or else it was by chance.
—Anne Bradstreet

Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry. —Georges Brague

Poetry is life distilled. —Gwendolyn Brooks

God is the perfect poet, who in His person acts His own creations. —Robert Browning

He who writes prose builds his temple to fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite. —Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows. —Edmund Burke

My way is: I consider the poetic sentiment, correspondent to my idea of the musical expression, then chuse my theme, begin one stanza, when that is composed—which is generally the most difficult part of the business—I walk out, sit down now and then, look out for objects in nature around me that are in unison or harmony with the cogitations of my fancy and workings of my bosom, humming every now and then the air with the verses I have framed. When I feel my Muse beginning to jade, I retire to the solitary fireside of my study, and there commit my effusions to paper, swinging, at intervals, on the hind-legs of my elbow chair, by way of calling forth my own critical strictures, as my, pen goes. —Robert Burns

Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is. —James Branch Cabell

There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing. —John Cage

If there is poetry in my book about the sea, it is not because I deliberately put it there, but because no one could write truthfully about the sea and leave out the poetry. —Rachel Carson

Poetry is the utterance of deep and heart-felt truth—the true poet is very near the oracle. — Edwin Hubbel Chapin

A poet must leave traces of his passage, not proof. —Rene Char

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain. —John Cheever

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. —G. K. Chesterton

In my young days I never tasted sorrow. I wanted to become a famous poet. I wanted to get ahead so I pretended to be sad. Now I am old and have known the depths of every sorrow, and I am content to loaf and enjoy the clear autumn. —Hsin Ch’i Chi

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

The worst fate of a poet is to be admired without being understood. —Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel á l’ordre, 1926

The poet doesn’t invent; he listens. —Jean Cocteau

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. —Jean Cocteau

Children and lunatics cut the Gordian knot which the poet spends his life patiently trying to untie. —Jean Cocteau

A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses. —Jean Cocteau

Such is the role of poetry. It unveils, in the strict sense of the word. It lays bare, under a light which shakes off torpor, the surprising things which surround us and which our senses record mechanically. —Jean Cocteau

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. —Leonard Cohen

Poetry has been to me an exceeding great reward; it has soothed my affliction; it has multiplied and refined my enjoyments; it has endeared my solitude; and it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and the beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Poetry: the best words in the best order. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

No man was ever yet a great poet without being at the same time a profound philosopher. For poetry is the blossom and the fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language. —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

To a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one. —Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

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

There is a pleasure in poetic pains Which only poets know. —William Cowper, The Task

A prose writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet. So he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose. —Samuel McChord Crothers, The Dame School of Experience, 1920

You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose. —Mario Cuomo

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week. —Charles Darwin

Your prayer can be poetry, and poetry can be your prayer. —Noelani Day

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. —from the film, Dead Poet’s Society

Poetry is important. No less than science, it seeks a hold upon reality, and the closeness of its approach is the test of its success. —Babette Deutsch

To see the summer sky is poetry, though never in a book it lie. True poems flee. —Emily Dickinson

Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild. —Denis Diderot

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful. —Rita Dove

We read poetry because the poets, like ourselves, have been haunted by the inescapable tyranny of time and death; have suffered the pain of loss, and the more wearing, continuous pain of frustration and failure; and have had moods of unlooked-for release and peace. They have known and watched in themselves and others. —Elizabeth Drew

Poetry is not a profession, it is a destiny. —Mikhail Dudan

She opened up a book of poems and handed it to me, written by an Italian poet from the 13th century; and every one of the words rang true and glowed like burning coal pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul from me to you. —Bob Dylan

I’m a poet, and I know it. Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem. —Bob Dylan

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. —T. S. Eliot, Dante, 1920

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

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

The true philosopher and the true poet are one; and a beauty, which is truth, and a truth, which is beauty, is the aim of both. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language is fossil poetry. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good poetry could not have been otherwise written than it is. The first time you hear it, it sounds rather as if copied out of some invisible tablet in the eternal mind than as if arbitrarily composed by the poet. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

For poetry was all written before time was, and whenever we are so finely organized that we can penetrate into that region where the air is music, we hear those primal warblings, and attempt to write them down, but we lose ever and anon a word, a verse, and substitute something of our own, and thus mis-write the poem. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry is ordinary language raised to the nth power. —Paul Engle, New York Times, February 17, 1957

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, February 17, 1957

Poetry is at least an elegance and at most a revelation. —Robert Fitzgerald

Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold. —Zelda Fitzgerald

Of all great poems, love is the absolute and essential foundation. —C. Fitzhugh

Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry. —Gustave Flaubert

There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it. —Gustave Flaubert

Poetry is not always words. —Audrey Foris

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

Browsing the dim back corner
Of a musty antique shop
Opened an old book of poetry
Angels flew out from the pages
I caught the whiff of a soul
The ink seemed fresh as today
Was that voices whispering?
The tree of the paper still grows.
—Pixie Foudre

Poets 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

Everywhere I go I find that a poet has been there before me. —Sigmund Freud

I would as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down. —Robert Frost, 1935

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought; and the thought has found words. —Robert Frost

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting. —Robert Frost

A poem begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. —Robert Frost

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. —Robert Frost, “The Figure a Poem Makes,” Collected Poems of Robert Frost, 1939

The poet, as everyone knows, must strike his individual note some time 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

Poetry is what gets lost in translation. —Robert Frost

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. —Robert Frost

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. —Robert Frost

Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things. —Robert Frost

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement . . . says heaven and earth in one word . . . speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time. —Christopher Fry

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

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. —Kahlil Gibran

“Therefore” is a word the poet must not know. —André Gide

ever been kidnapped
by a poet
if i were a poet
i’d kidnap you
put you in my phrases and meter . . .
—Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni, Jr., “kidnap poem”

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. —George Gordon, Lord Byron

It is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake. —George Gordon, Lord Byron

There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either. —Robert Graves, 1962 BBC-TV interview, based on statement he overheard in 1955

Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. —Thomas Gray

At certain times, men regard poetry merely as a bright flame, but to women it was, and always will be, a warm fire. —Franz Grillparzer

Writing poetry is like stringing random pearls. —Hafez

If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the inquisition might have let him alone. —Thomas Hardy

Poetry is to philosophy what the Sabbath is to the rest of the week. —Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth by Two Brothers, 1827

Most painters have painted themselves. So have most poets: Not so palpably indeed, but more assiduously. Some have done nothing else. —Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth by Two Brothers, 1827

Poetry is the key to the hieroglyphics of Nature. —Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth by Two Brothers, 1827

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

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

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

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

Love letters and poems aren’t the least bit difficult to write, if you write directly from your heart into the ink and don’t channel through your brain first. —Graycie Harmon

Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life. —William Hazlitt

Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. —William Hazlitt

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

No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers. —Horace, “Quintus Horatius Flaccus,” Satires

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

Poetry was for him . . . “a morbid secretion,” as the pearl is for the oyster. The desire, or the need, did not come upon him often, and it came usually when he was feeling ill or depressed; then whole lines and stanzas would present themselves to him without any effort or any consciousness of composition on his part. Sometimes they wanted a little alteration, sometimes none; sometimes the lines needed, in order to make a complete poem, would come later, spontaneously or with a little coaxing; sometimes he had to sit down and finish the poem with his head. That . . . was a long and laborious process. —A. E. Housman

Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts. —Robinson Jeffers

Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth. —Samuel Johnson

You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you. —Joseph Joubert

Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject. —John Keats

The poetry of the earth is never dead. —John Keats

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. —John Keats

When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. —John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I see a vision of a great rucksack revolution, thousands or even millions of young Americans wandering around with their rucksacks, going up the mountains to pray, making children laugh and old men glad . . . Zen lunatics who go about writing poems. —Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition. —Eli Khamarov, The Shadow Zone

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

Compose a verse on your tongue, and you can blow away your doubts and pains. —Takarai Kikaku

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

A blind horse trotting up an icy ledge—
Such is the poet.
Once disburdened
Of those frog-in-the-well illusions,
The sutra-store’s a lamp against the sun.
—Kosen (1808-1893)

You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life. —Krishnamurti

Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of its saying. —Maxine Kumin

I regard a love for poetry as one of the most needful and helpful elements in the life-outfit of a human being. It was the greatest of blessings to me, in the long days of toil to which I was shut in much earlier than most young girls are, that the poetry I held in my memory breathed its enchanted atmosphere through me and around me, and touched even dull drudgery with its sunshine. —Lucy Larcom (born 1824 . . . became a textile mill worker at age 11)

Come voyeur my poems. Feel free, I feel free. —Carrie Latet

My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. —John Lennon

Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before. —Audre Lorde

For women . . . poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of light within which we can predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives. —Audre Lorde

It is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are—until the poem—nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. —Audre Lorde

Perhaps no person can be a poet, or can even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind. —Thomas Babington Macaulay

A poem should not mean, but be. —Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica, 1926

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things. —Stephen Mallarme

Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. —Don Marquis

My favorite poem is the one that starts “Thirty days hath September” because it actually tells you something. —Groucho Marx

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

The only problem
with haiku is that you just
get started and then
—Roger McGough

Poetry is like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you’ve lost the whole thing. —W. S. Merwin

Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. —Adrian Mitchell

Imaginary gardens with real toads in them. —Marianne Moore’s definition of poetry, “Poetry,” Collected Poems, 1951

Poetry is all nouns and verbs. —Marianne Moore

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

The greatest poem ever known
Is one all poets have outgrown:
The poetry, innate, untold,
Of being only four years old.
—Christopher Morley, To a Child

A poet must write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. —Abraham Moslow

Each memorable verse of a true poet has two or three times the written content. —Alfred de Musset, Le Poète déchu, 1839

Do you know how poetry started? I always think that it started when a cave boy came running back to the cave, through the tall grass, shouting as he ran, “Wolf, wolf,” and there was no wolf. His baboon-like parents, great sticklers for the truth, gave him a hiding, no doubt, but poetry had been born—the tall story had been born in the tall grass. —Vladimir Nabokov

Poets aren’t very useful because they aren’t consumeful or very produceful. —Ogden Nash

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, November 14, 1985

A speech is poetry: Cadence, rhythm, imagery, sweep! A speech reminds us that words, like children, have the power to make dance the dullest beanbag of a heart. —Peggy Noonan

If conditions aren’t right the poem won’t come out. It will sit inside and stew and emerge a different beast. —Ed Northstrum

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. —Novalis

Prose—it might be speculated—is discourse; poetry ellipsis. Prose is spoken aloud; poetry overheard. The one is presumably articulate and social, a shared language, the voice of “communication;” the other is private, allusive, teasing, sly, idiosyncratic as the spider’s delicate web, a kind of witchcraft unfathomable to ordinary minds. —Joyce Carol Oates

Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it, and make something out of that. —Mary Oliver

Good prose is like a window pane. —George Orwell

With my poems, I finally won even my mother. The longest wooing of my life. —Marge Piercy, Braided Lives

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. —Plato, Ion

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. —Plato

Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand. —Plato

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. —Plutarch

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. —Edgar Allan Poe

Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem . . . Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all poetical tones . . . The death, then, of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world—and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover. —Edgar Allan Poe

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

If, Poet! Master! song of mine should wait
Till it were meet to stand within your gate,
For ever would it tarry. So I send it,
With all its flaws and failures, and commend it
To your good mercy—and, though you shall blame
This foolish song you shelter with your name,
Think not, to intercept your musings stately
It seeks you, but because it yearns so greatly
To cast itself, stammering and incomplete,
Where, Poet! Master! it may kiss your feet.
—May Probyn

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

There is little premium in poetry in a world that thinks of Pound and Whitman as a weight and a sampler, not an Ezra, a Walt, a thing of beauty, a joy forever. —Anna Quindlen

Writing poetry is the hard manual labor of the imagination. —Ishmael Reed

Poetry operates by raising our curiosity, engaging the mind by degrees to take an interest in the event, keeping that event suspended, and surprising at last with an unexpected catastrophe. —Sir Joshua Reynolds

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. —Rainer Maria Rilke

A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed—and the supreme scientist! For he attains the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He attains the unknown, and if, demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: Other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen! —Arthur Rimbaud

The office of poetry is not to make us think accurately, but feel truly. —Frederick William Robertson

I write poetry in order to live more fully. —Judith Rodriguez

The poem is the point at which our strength gave out. —Richard Rosen

Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know. —Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest

Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes. —Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest

Poetry spills from the cracks of a broken heart, but flows from one which is loved. —Christopher Paul Rubero

Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry. —Muriel Rukeyser

Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling . . . A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually—that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too—but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling. —Muriel Rukeyser

If there were no poetry on any day in the world, poetry would be invented that day. For there would be an intolerable hunger. —Muriel Rukeyser

The sources of poetry are in the spirit seeking completeness. —Muriel Rukeyser

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

To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one. —John Ruskin

Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young. —Sainte-Beuve, Portraits littéraires, 1862

He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life. —George Sand, 1851

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. —Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. —Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. —Carl Sandburg

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. —Carl Sandburg, Poetry Considered

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment. —Carl Sandburg, Poetry Considered

I’ve written some poetry I don’t understand myself. —Carl Sandburg

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child. —Carl Sandburg

I’ll probably die propped up in bed trying to write a poem about America. —Carl Sandburg

There is a formal poetry only in form, all dressed up and nowhere to go. The number of syllables, the designated and required stresses of accent, the rhymes if wanted—they all come off with the skill of a solved crossword puzzle . . . The fact is ironic. A proficient and sometimes exquisite performer in rhymed verse goes out of his way to register the point that the more rhyme there is in poetry, the more danger of its tricking the writer into something other than the urge in the beginning. —Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. —Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. —Percy Bysshe Shelley

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar. —Percy Bysshe Shelley

Wanted: A needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket. —Charles Simic

Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them. —Charles Simic

The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten. —Dame Edith Sitwell

Poetry is like fish: if it’s fresh, it’s good; if it’s stale, it’s bad; and if you’re not certain, try it on the cat. —Osbert Sitwell

I don’t create poetry, I create myself. For me, my poems are a way to me. —Edith Södergran

A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman. —Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. —Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry,” Reasons for Moving, 1968

For poetry, he’s past his prime,
He takes an hour to find a rhyme;
His fire is out, his wit decayed,
His fancy sunk, his muse a jade.
I’d have him throw away his pen,
But there’s no talking to some men.
—Jonathan Swift

You can’t write poetry on the computer. —Quentin Tarantino

Poets are mysterious; but a poet, when all is said, is not much more mysterious than a banker. —Allen Tate

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The existence of this page is dependent upon the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. —Thich Nhat Hahn

Don’t be too harsh to these poems until they’re typed. I always think typescript lends some sort of certainty: at least, if the things are bad then, they appear to be bad with conviction. —Dylan Thomas, letter to Vernon Watkins, March 1938

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 the only life got, the only work done, the only pure product and free labor of man, performed only when he has put all the world under his feet, and conquered the last of his foes. —Henry David Thoreau

Yet poetry, though the last and finest result, is a natural fruit. As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, man bears a poem, either spoken or done. It is the chief and most memorable success, for history is but a prose narrative of poetic deeds. —Henry David Thoreau

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

A poem is never finished, only abandoned. —Paul Valéry

The job of the poet is to render the world—to see it and report it without loss, without perversion. No poet ever talks about feelings. Only sentimental people do. —Mark Van Doren

It’s impossible to write poetry in front of the TV. Almost impossible not to write in the sun. In the woods, every breath is a poem. The words form in the sunbeams, to those who look for them. —Daisey Verlaef

One merit of poetry few persons will deny: It says more, and in fewer words than prose. —Voltaire

If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average. —Derek Walcott

A poet who makes use of a worse word instead of a better, because the former fits the rhyme or the measure, though it weakens the sense, is like a jeweler, who cuts a diamond into a brilliant, and diminishes the weight to make it shine more. —Horace Walpole

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.” —Robert Penn Warren, “The Themes of Robert Frost,” Hopwood Lecture, 1947

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, March 22. 1958

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

To have great poets there must be great audiences, too. —Walt Whitman

A poet can survive everything but a misprint. —Oscar Wilde

He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realize. —Oscar Wilde

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. —Oscar Wilde

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility. —William Wordsworth

Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge. —William Wordsworth

The true poet is all the time a visionary and whether with friends or not, as much alone as a man on his death bed. —William Butler Yeats

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry. —William Butler Yeats

The smell of ink is intoxicating to me—others may have wine, but I have poetry. —Abbe Yeux-verdi

A poet’s autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote. —Yevgeny Yentushenko, The Sole Survivor, 1982

If the author had said, “Let’s us put on appropriate galoshes,” there could, of course, have been no poem. —Author Unknown

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