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Quotes about Poetry

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If you read quickly to get through a poem to what it means, you have missed the body of the poem. (M. H. Abrams)

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

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. (John Adams)

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

As the poet said, 'Only God can make a tree' - probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on. (Woody Allen)

My secret dream is to write an epic poem. That's probably the most pretentious thing I've said. (Laurie Anderson)

A poet wants only one small stone on which to carve his life. (Joan Walsh Anglund)

A poet is someone who is astonished by everything. (Anonymous)

Wordsworth wrote poetry when it was allowed to rhyme. (Anonymous)

For the purposes of poetry, a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility. (Aristotle)

Not deep the Poet sees, but wide. (Matthew Arnold)

-On Translating Homer: Last Words
The grand stye arises in poetry, when a noble nature, poetically gifted, treats with simplicity or with severity a serious subject. (Matthew Arnold)

Written poetry is worth reading once, and then should be destroyed. Let the dead poets make way for others. Then we might even come to see that it is our veneration for what has already been created, however beautiful and valid it may be, that petrifies us. (Antonin Artaud)

-Thirteen Reasons Why...
That's what I love about poetry. The more abstract, the better. The stuff where you're not sure what the poet's talking about. You may have an idea, but you can't be sure. Not a hundred percent. Each word, specifically chosen, could have a million different meanings... a symbol for another idea? Does it fit into a larger, more hidden, metaphor? (Jay Asher)

The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation. I don't think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover the problems. (Margaret Atwood)

I don't think of poetry as a 'rational' activity but as an aural one. My poems usually begin with words or phrases which appeal more because of their sound than their meaning, and the movement and phrasing of a poem are very important to me. (Margaret Atwood)

-Collected Poems
A poet's hope: to be, / like some valley cheese, / local, but prized elsewhere. (W. H. Auden)

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

Poetry is one of the destinies of speech... One would say that the poetic image, in its newness, opens a future to language. (Gaston Bachelard)

Poets are all who love, who feel great truths, And tell them; and the truth of truths is love. (Philip James Bailey)

Many good poets are really essayists who write very short essays. (Nicholson Baker)

- The Anthologist...
You can tell it's a poem because it's swimming in a little gel pack of white space. That shows it's a poem. (Nicholson Baker)

I gave up on new poetry thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world. (Russell Baker)

I've read some of your modern free verse and wonder who set it free. (John Barrymore)

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

Any healthy man can go without food for two days – but not without poetry. (Charles Baudelaire)

The poet enjoys the incomparable privilege of being able to be himself and others, as he wishes. (Charles Baudelaire)

Let the poet dream his dreams. Yet, the poet must look at the world; must enter into other men's lives; must look at the earth and the sky, must examine the dust in the street; must walk through the world and his mirror. (William Baziotes)

- Walks With Men...
Clouds are poems, and the most moving poems linger on the blackboard so long, written in cursive so lovely, they also exist inside our fingertips. We never really erase them at the end of the lesson. (Ann Beattie)

Poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity. (Samuel Beckett)

We write poetry to hear our own voices whisper, sing and yell. Writing poetry helps us to find what we must, to celebrate life, to experience depth. (Andrea Lee Beliveau)

For every poem that I begin to write, I think of at least ten which I do not write down at all. (Stephen Bender)

Imaginative poetry produces a far greater mental strain than novels. It produces probably the severest strain of any form of literature. It is the highest form of literature. It yields the highest form of pleasure, and teaches the highest form of wisdom. In a word, there is nothing to compare with it. I say this with sad consciousness of the fact that the majority of people do not read poetry. (Arnold Bennett)

The most original sin is not the thinker's but the poet's. (Jose Bergamin)

Every authentic poem contributes to the labour of poetry... to bring together what life has separated or violence has torn apart... (John Berger)

Poetry can repair no loss, but it defies the space which separates. And it does this by its continual labour of reassembling what has been scattered. (John Berger)

Poetry is as necessary to comprehension as science. It is as impossible to live without reverence as it is without joy. (Henry Beston)

poetry, n. A form of expression peculiar to the Land beyond the Magazines. (Ambrose Bierce)

blank-verse, n. Unrhymed iambic pentameters - the most difficult kind of English verse to write acceptably; a kind, therefore, much affected by those who cannot acceptably write any kind. (Ambrose Bierce)

Those of us who make up poems have agreed not to say what the pain is. (Robert Bly)

All poems are journeys. The best poems take long journeys. I like poetry best that journeys - while remaining in the human scale - to the other world, which may be a place as easily overlooked as a bee's wing. (Robert Bly)

For me, poetry is an impish attempt to paint the colour of the wind. (Maxwell Bodenheim)

When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images. (Niels Bohr)

Happy the poet who with ease can steer / From grave to gay, from lively to severe. (Nicolas Boileau)

The true poem rests between the words. (Vanna Bonta)

Writing poems is not a career but a lifetime of looking into, and listening to, how words see. (Philip Booth)

Poetry is to a painting what life is to man. (Georges Braque)

The painter puts brush to canvas, and the poet puts pen to paper. The poet has the easier task, for his pen does not alter his rhyme. (Robert Brault)

Poems are paintings you don't have time to do. Paintings are poems you don't have colors for. (Bob Brendle)

In the world of poetry there are would-be poets, workshop poets, promising poets, lovesick poets, university poets, and a few real poets. (James Broughton)

Most poets in their youth begin in adolescent sadness. I find it more rewarding to end in gladness. (James Broughton)

God is the perfect poet. (Robert Browning)

Poetry is what happens when nothing else can. (Charles Bukowski)

The poet in prose or verse - the creator - can only stamp his images forcibly on the page in proportion as he has forcibly felt, ardently nursed, and long brooded over them. (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton)

Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows, and of lending existence to nothing. (Edmund Burke)

Just now I've taen the fit o' rhyme / My barmie noddle's working prime. (Robert Burns)

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

How do you define a poet? It's very simple. Anyone declaring that he is a poet, is a poet. (Bill Cannon)

A vein of poetry exists in the hearts of all men. (Thomas Carlyle)

If you cannot be a poet, be the poem. (David Carradine)

I've been writing poems since I was in the Navy - to Rosalynn. I found I could say things in poems that I never could in prose. Deeper, more personal things. I could write a poem about my mother that I could never tell my mother. Or feelings about being on a submarine that I would have been too embarrassed to share with fellow submariners. (Jimmy Carter)

An age which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence. (Raymond Chandler)

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

All slang is a metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. (G. K. Chesterton)

There were poets before Homer. (Cicero)

There's poetry in the world. Poetry doesn't belong just to the poets. You know, you can look at the most premeditated, cold blooded movie and find poetry in it. (Francesco Clemente)

To me the poets are closer than I am to the idea of voice, to a sort of primeval song that we all participate in. (Francesco Clemente)

There are poets and there are grownups. (Jean Cocteau)

The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood. (Jean Cocteau)

I know that poetry is indispensable, but to what I could not say. (Jean Cocteau)

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

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

I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order, poetry = the best words in the best order. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

My poetry has become the way of my giving out what music is within me. (Countee Cullen)

In its use of words poetry is just the reverse of science. Very definite thoughts do occur, but not because the words are so chosen as logically to bar out all possibilities save one. (David Daiches)

There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality. (Richard Dawkins)

-from The Cubist Poets in Paris: An Anthology by LeRoy C. Breunig...
ZENITH / NOON beats out / on its solar anvil / the rays of light (Sonia Delaunay)

I want a fever, in poetry: a fever, and tranquillity. (James Dickey)

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. (Emily Dickinson)

I am two fools, I know, / For loving, and for saying so / In whining Poetry. (John Donne)

Poetry is a counterfeit creation, and makes things that are not, as though they were. (John Donne)

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)

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

The connection between poetry and painting are as close as any two different art forms can be. The search for exactly the right word or set of words echos the search for the right color, the right value. Both forms struggle against the limitations inherent to their scope and tools and process. (Dean Taylor Drewyer)

I have piles of poetry books in the bathroom, on the stairs, everywhere. The only way to write poetry is to read it. (Carol Ann Duffy)

I am always pleased to be asked to write a poem. (Carol Ann Duffy)

I began a poem in lines of one syllable. It's rather difficult, but the merit of all things lies in their difficulty. The subject matter is gallant. I'll read you the first canto; it's four hundred verses long and takes one minute. (Alexandre Dumas)

I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I'll die like a poet. (Bob Dylan)

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion; it is not an expression of the personality, but an escape from personality. (T. S. Eliot)

Immature poets imitate, mature poets steal. (T. S. Eliot)

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. (T. S. Eliot)

Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express. (T. S. Eliot)

The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail. (William Faulkner)

Money is everywhere but so is poetry. What we lack are the poets. (Federico Fellini)

We have to raise the consciousness; the only way poets can change the world is to raise the consciousness of the general populace. (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone. (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

The poets are the standard bearers of language. Their work lives or dies word by word. When I write and can hear a clunky sentence, I try to write up to the poetry that I have recited beforehand. (Janet Fitch)

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

Poetry is as precise a thing as geometry. (Gustave Flaubert)

Men yearn for poetry though they may not confess it; they desire that joy shall be graceful and sorrow august and infinity have a form. (E. M. Forster)

A poem is true if it hangs together. Information points to something else. A poem points to nothing but itself. (E. M. Forster)

All pasts are like poems; one can derive a thousand things, but not live in them. (John Fowles)

We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words. (John Fowles)

Poetry is what gets lost in translation. (Robert Frost)

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. (Robert Frost)

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. (Robert Frost)

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down. (Robert Frost)

Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom. (Robert Frost)

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

The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader of poetry. (Robert Frost)

The poet... uses these two crude, primitive, archaic forms of thought (simile and metaphor) in the most uninhibited way, because his job is not to describe nature, but to show you a world completely absorbed and possessed by the human mind. (Northrop Frye)

The beauty of poetry is that the creation transcends the poet. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Literary poetry in a painter is something special, and is neither illustration nor the translation of writing by form. (Paul Gauguin)

These days, if you happen to be a poet you have to sing your words to get your ideas out. (Sara Genn)

A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm and arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland. (Kahlil Gibran)

'Therefore' is a word the poet must not know. (Andre Gide)

Kierkegaard was once asked, 'What is a poet?' He answered that a poet was an unhappy man whose moans and cries of anguish were transformed into ravishing music. (Langdon Gilkey)

Poetry's role is to provide spontaneous individual candor as distinct from manipulation and brainwash. (Allen Ginsberg)

They say poets write mostly for themselves. If anyone else likes it, well and good; if not, it doesn't matter - certainly, not to me. (Tom Glazer)

Poetry is a game of loser-take-all. (Jean-Luc Godard)

Modern poets add a lot of water to their ink. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it. (Vincent van Gogh)

Every English poet should master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them. (Robert Graves)

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

Prose talks and poetry sings. (Franz Grillparzer)

In every artist there is poetry. In every human being there is the poetic element. We know, we feel, we believe. (Ernst Haas)

My opinion is that a poet should express the emotion of all the ages and the thought of his own. (Thomas Hardy)

The business of the poet and the novelist is to show the sorriness underlying the grandest things and the grandeur underlying the sorriest things. (Thomas Hardy)

-on Emily Dickinson...
She was a free soul and an eccentric. For her, words were life, sacred beings, phosphorescence. To find that light within - that's the genius of poetry. (Julie Harris)

I got $30 from Nation magazine for a poem and $500 for my first book of poems. (Jim Harrison)

Pound's crazy. All poets are. They have to be. You don't put a poet like Pound in the loony bin. (Ernest Hemingway)

All I do and say and think 'as a poet' is much truer and more intimate than anything I say face to face. (Selima Hill)

Cut out the poetry, Watson. (Sherlock Holmes)

I wish you would read a little poetry sometimes. Your ignorance cramps my conversation. (Anthony Hope)

Not gods, nor men, nor even booksellers have put up with poets' being second-rate. (Horace)

That I make poetry and give pleasure – if I give pleasure – are because of you. (Horace)

I have to submit to much in order to pacify the touchy tribe of poets. (Horace)

Many brave men lived before Agamemnon; but all are covered by eternal night, unwept, unknown, because they lack a sacred poet. (Horace)

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)

A poet is a world enclosed in a man. (Victor Hugo)

If a poet knows more about a horse than he does about heaven, he might better stick to the horse, and some day the horse may carry him into heaven. (Charles Ives)

The poet's expression of joy conceals his despair at not having found the reality of joy. (Max Jacob)

I think of poets as outlaw visionaries in a way. (Jim Jarmusch)

I hate my verses, every line, every word. / Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try / One grass-blade's curve, or the throat of one bird / That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky. (Robinson Jeffers)

If a poet doesn't explain his work nobody will understand what he means. (D. A. Jelke)

For me, poetry is always a search for order. (Elizabeth Jennings)

Poetry is more fundamental than written language... It is one of the characteristics that defines us as human... Where there are people, there is speech; where there is speech, there is poetry. (Judson Jerome)

To tell of disappointment and misery, to thicken the darkness of futurity, and perplex the labyrinth of uncertainty, has been always a delicious employment of the poets. (Samuel Johnson)

You will not find poetry anywhere unless you bring some of it with you. (Joseph Joubert)

If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. (John Keats)

Poetry should please by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance. (John Keats)

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

Don't use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry. (Jack Kerouac)

What is a poet? An unhappy person who conceals profound anguish in his heart but whose lips are so formed that as sighs and cries pass over them they sound like beautiful music. (Soren Kierkegaard)

I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree / ...Poems are made by fools like me, / But only God can make a tree (Joyce Kilmer)

Poetry is language surprised in the act of changing into meaning. (Stanley Kunitz)

Poetry today is easier to write but harder to remember. (Stanley Kunitz)

Sad is his lot, who, once at least in his life, has not been a poet. (Alphonse de Lamartine)

The true poet dreams being awake. (Charles Lamb)

Prose on certain occasions can bear a great deal of poetry; on the other hand, poetry sinks and swoons under a moderate weight of prose. (Walter Savage Landor)

The association of two, or more, apparently alien elements on a plane alien to both is the most potent ignition of poetry. (Compte de Lautreamont)

As to the pure mind all things are pure, so to the poetic mind all things are poetical. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Poetry is something to make us wiser and better, by continually revealing those types of beauty and truth which God has set in all men's souls. (James Russell Lowell)

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

We need a safe place, a reserve of truth, a place where words kindle ideas and set ideas sparking off in others, a word sanctuary. Poetry is this gathering place of words. (Alison Mackie)

A poem should not mean, / But be. (Archibald MacLeish)

If the poem can be improved by its author's explanations it never should have been published. (Archibald MacLeish)

A truly poetic canvas is an awakened dream. (Rene Magritte)

You don't make a poem with ideas, but with words. (Stephane Mallarme)

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

Terrible times in which priests no longer merit the praise of poets and in which poets have not yet begun to be priests. (Jose Marti)

Some good, some so-so, and lots plain bad: that's how a book of poems is made, my friend. (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

Stop abusing my verses, or publish some of your own. (Marcus Valerius Martialis)

Why are paintings such potent sources for a poet? Often, paintings are experiences that have been halted, allowing the details and narrative to be examined... the chance to dwell indefinitely in the present. (David Masello)

Poetry is when you talk to yourself. (Hughes Mearns)

My paintings and poetry are the poem of my life. (Barbara Elizabeth Mercer)

The man of science is nothing if not a poet gone wrong. (George Meredith)

I thought I'd begin by reading a poem by Shakespeare, but then I thought, why should I? He never reads any of mine. (Spike Milligan)

Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. (Adrian Mitchell)

These poems are a mental sketch as formed / Passage by passage of light and shade / Maintained and preserved to this point / Brought together in paper and mineral ink (Kenji Miyazawa)

As far as I am concerned, poetry is a statement concerning the human condition, composed in verse. (Navarre Scott Momaday)

Sometimes, I think the best kind of poem is one in which there is an acute balance between what is humorous and that which is very serious. That balance is very hard to strike. But it can be done. (Navarre Scott Momaday)

-Anne of Green Gables...
Don't you just love poetry that gives you a crinkly feeling up and down your back? (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

O for the insight of T.S. Elliot's The Hollow Men to realize the power of abstract thought. (Adrienne Moore)

Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads. (Marianne Moore)

There is a great amount of poetry in unconscious fastidiousness. (Marianne Moore)

There's a poem in my pocket / It's about love and hate / It tells a sad story / A master of fate. (Stephen Morris)

Listen, real poetry doesn't say anything; it just ticks off the possibilities. Opens all doors. You can walk through anyone that suits you. (Jim Morrison)

If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it's to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel. (Jim Morrison)

Our earliest poets were shamans. Today, as in the earliest times, true shamans are poets of consciousness who know the power of song and story to teach and to heal. (Robert Moss)

Who can ever say the perfect thing to the poet about his poetry? (Alice Munro)

Each memorable verse of a true poet has two or three times the written content. (Alfred de Musset)

I'd rather be a great bad poet than a bad good poet. (Ogden Nash)

You do not have to be a poet, but you are obliged to be a citizen. (Nikolai Nekrasov)

Writing poetry, we live among the wild beasts, and when we touch a man, the stuff of someone in whom we believed, and he goes to pieces like a rotten pie, you... gather together whatever can be salvaged, while I cup my hands around the live coal of life. (Pablo Neruda)

Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread. (Pablo Neruda)

A subject for a great poet would be God's boredom after the seventh day of Creation. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

I am not a painter. I am a poet. / Why? I think I would rather be / a painter, but I am not. (Frank O'Hara)

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)

The poem, for me, is simply the first sound realized in the modality of being. (Charles Olson)

Poetry comes fine-spun from a mind at peace. (Ovid)

Rural poetry is the pleasure ground of those who live in cities. (Samuel Palmer)

But say my verses do not scan, / And I get me another man! (Dorothy Parker)

-to Richard Wollheim...
Why do you always write poetry? Why do you not write prose? Prose is so much more difficult. (Walter Pater)

A very intimate sense of the expressiveness of outward things, which ponders, listens, penetrates, where the earlier, less developed consciousness passed lightly by, is an important element in the general temper of our modern poetry. (Walter Pater)

'I just can't get the poetry of the trees,' he said. (Katherine Paterson)

The poet is a pretender. / He pretends so completely, / that he even pretends that it is pain / the pain he really feels. (Fernando Pessoa)

Poetry is not easy. Or should I say, real poetry is not easy. (Robert Pinsky)

Poetry is a vocal art for me - but not necessarily a performative one. It might be reading to oneself or recalling some lines by memory. (Robert Pinsky)

I saw the gooseflesh on my skin. I did not know what made it. I was not cold. Had a ghost passed over? No, it was the poetry. (Sylvia Plath)

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

...for a poet is a light and winged thing, and holy, and never able to compose until he has become inspired, and is beside himself, and reason is no longer in him. (Plato)

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

Sir, I admit your gen'ral rule, / That every poet is a fool; / But you yourself may serve to show it, / That every fool is not a poet. (Alexander Pope)

Poetry is a sort of inspired mathematics, which gives us equations, not for abstract figures, triangles, squares, and the like, but for the human emotions. (Ezra Pound)

Poetry does not consist of words alone; there must be sentiment and fancy, combination and arrangement. (Samuel Prout)

Out of the ruined lodge and forgotten mansion, bowers that are trodden under foot, and pleasure-houses that are dust, the poet calls up a palingenesis. (Thomas de Quincey)

Poetry is good for unleashing images. (Paula Rego)

Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance. (M. C. Richards)

When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword. / When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem. (Rinzai)

Poetry is not a mere shuffling of dead words or even a corralling of live ones. (Theodore Roethke)

The poem, even a short time after being written, seems no miracle; unwritten, it seems something beyond the capacity of the gods. (Theodore Roethke)

Whatever brief delights it provides, mere strangeness in poetry and prose eventually leaves us cold, especially when we suspect the writer is stretching for effect to avoid the actual life before his eyes. (Roger Rosenblatt)

True poetry is art, true art is poetry. Both sustain the heart. (Rick Rotante)

One day You will take my heart completely and make it more fiery than a dragon. Your eyelashes will write on my heart the poem that could never come from the pen of a poet. (Rumi)

This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say. I don't plan it. When I'm outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all. (Rumi)

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)

It is written on the arched sky; it looks out from every star. It is the poetry of Nature; it is that which uplifts the spirit within us. (John Ruskin)

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

Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. (Carl Sandburg)

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. (Carl Sandburg)

There are too many pirates in this world and not enough poets. (Charles Santopadre)

Why should it happen that among the great many women whom I see and am fond of, suddenly somebody I meet for half an hour opens the door into poetry? (May Sarton)

A definition of poetry can only determine what poetry should be and not what poetry actually was and is; otherwise the most concise formula would be: Poetry is that which at some time and some place was thus named. (Friedrich Von Schlegel)

Some say they see Poetry in my paintings; I see only science. (Georges Seurat)

The truest poetry is the most feigning. (William Shakespeare)

The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven; and, as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poets pen turns them to shapes, and gives airy nothing a local habitation and a name. (William Shakespeare)

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)

Poetry and consumption are the most flattering of diseases. (William Shenstone)

One of the things called forth by the Imagist movement in poetry was neatness; and when we say keenness, we mean neatness. A knife that is keen is also a knife that cuts neatly; it isn't brutal. Sharpness is different from brutality. Brutality is clumsy: it is wide - it has a lot of fist and thumb and no delicate finger. (Eli Siegel)

I am writing these poems from inside a lion... (Shel Silverstein)

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

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 decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean. (Socrates)

Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do. (Stephen Spender)

I learn life from the poets. (Madame de Stael)

No place is a place until it has found its poet. (Wallace Stegner)

Poetry consists in a rhyming dictionary and things seen. (Gertrude Stein)

Poetry is adjectives expressed in nouns. (Leo Stein)

The duty of a lyrical poet is not to express or explain, it is to intensify life. (James Stephens, author)

One reads poetry with one's nerves. (Wallace Stevens)

There it was, word for word, / The poem that took the place of a mountain. (Wallace Stevens)

The poet is the priest of the invisible. (Wallace Stevens)

Poetry is the scholar's art. (Wallace Stevens)

Wine is bottled poetry. (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Each of us has his own alphabet with which to create poetry. (Irving Stone)

Poetry is about slowing down. You sit and you read something, you read it again, and it reveals a little bit more, and things come to light you never could have predicted. (Mark Strand)

-in 11th century...
If the poet presents directly feelings which overwhelm him and keeps nothing back to linger as an aftertaste, he stirs us superficially; he cannot start the hands and feet involuntarily waving and tapping in time... (Wei T'ai)

No one ever was a great poet, that applied himself much to anything else. (Sir William Temple)

This round of green, this orb of flame, / Fantastic beauty such as lurks / In some wild Poet, when he works / Without a conscience or an aim. (Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

- as quoted in Letteratour, 29 November 2004...
I do consider my engaged poetry as a personal mission, a duty toward a society which evolves into a system of control of consciences: one even becomes a suspect for not thinking correctly! (Jan Theuninck)

I like to think of poetry as statements made on the way to the grave. (Dylan Thomas)

The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them. (Henry David Thoreau)

The poet is a man who lives at last by watching his moods. An old poet comes at last to watch his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse. (Henry David Thoreau)

My life has been the poem I would have writ, / But I could not both live and utter it. (Henry David Thoreau)

Plato, by the way, wanted to banish all poets from his proposed Utopia because they were liars. The truth was that Plato knew philosophers couldn't compete successfully with poets. (Kilgore Trout)

Poetry is the overflowing of the Soul. (Henry Theodore Tuckerman)

-on Peter Ackroyd's T. S. Eliot...
But for a few phrases from his letters and an odd line or two of his verse, the poet walks gagged through his own biography. (John Updike)

My poems mean what people take them to mean. (Paul Valery)

In poetry everything which must be said is almost impossible to say well. (Paul Valery)

A man is a poet if difficulties inherent in his art provide him with ideas; he is not a poet if they deprive him of ideas. (Paul Valery)

Although the poet has as wide a choice of subjects as the painter, his creations fail to afford as much satisfaction to mankind as do paintings... if the poet serves the understanding by way of the ear, the painter does so by the eye, which is the nobler sense. (Leonardo da Vinci)

One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose. (Voltaire)

Poetry is more like painting than prose, capturing the image or feeling in a moment of illumination, whereas prose is more linear and better suited to telling a story. (Marney Ward)

There are no poetic ideas; only poetic utterances. (Evelyn Waugh)

As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight and the subject-matter has nothing to do with harmony of sound or of colour. The great musicians knew this. Beethoven and the rest wrote music – simply music; symphony in this key, concerto or sonata in that... (James Abbott McNeill Whistler)

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)

And your very flesh shall be a great poem. (Walt Whitman)

Enough / These few words are enough, if not these words, this / breath... (David Whyte)

A poet can survive anything but a misprint. (Oscar Wilde)

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic. (Oscar Wilde)

A great poet, a really great poet, is the most unpoetical of all creatures. But inferior poets are absolutely fascinating. The worse their rhymes are, the more picturesque they look. (Oscar Wilde)

Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. (Virginia Woolf)

But she lives; for great poets do not die; they are continuing presences; they need only the opportunity to walk among us in the flesh. (Virginia Woolf)

A great poet ought to a certain degree to rectify men's feelings... to render their feelings more sane, pure and permanent, in short, more consonant to Nature. (William Wordsworth)

Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of knowledge - it is as immortal as the heart of man. (William Wordsworth)

Irish poets, learn your trade, sing whatever is well made, scorn the sort now growing up all out of shape from toe to top. (William Butler Yeats)

What can be explained is not poetry. (William Butler Yeats)

There is something about poetry beyond prose logic, there is mystery in it, not to be explained but admired. (Edward Young)

Poetry allows us to become students of philosophy. Philosophy makes us poets... which is what we've always been... painters created by zookeepers. (Jan Zawadzki)

The inside/out relationship of / The face covered by a mask - / Inspired writing in poetry / Will come to fruition by such / A frail distance. (Zoltan Zelan)