Poetry Quotes

Most popular poetry quotes

A poem is a meteor.
Poetry is devil's wine.
Poetry to me is prayer.
β€” Anne Sexton (Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters)
Poetry is life distilled.
β€” Gwendolyn Brooks (A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fiction)
A poem is like a painting.
Poetry's a mere drug, Sir.
Poetry is language in orbit.
Poetry is a religion without hope.
Poetry, "The Cinderella of the Arts."
Poetry is truth in its Sunday clothes.

truth

Through the poet we encounter reality.
Much of poetry is an anguished waiting.
Poetry is at bottom a criticism of life.
A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry.
A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
Poetry is music written for the human voice.
β€” Maya Angelou (The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets)
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.
Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking.
Poetry is the original language of the gods.
Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
Breathe-in, experience, breathe-out, poetry.
Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.

love

A grain of poetry suffices to season a century.
"Poetry Is a Kind of Unconscious Autobiography."
Inside every man there is a poet who died young.
A vein of poetry exists in the hearts of all men.
β€” Thomas Carlyle (On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History)
Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.
Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
Poetry is man's rebellion against being what he is.
In poetry, wonder is coupled with the joy of speech.
Poetry must be as new as foam, and as old as the rock.
Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting.

art

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

trees

Poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully.
Somehow, poem-making and person-making is the same thing.
The function of poetry is religious invocation of the Muse.
Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
Writing poetry is the hard manual labor of the imagination.
Next time you feel the itch, let poetry help you scratch it.
β€” Sage Cohen (The Everything Creative Writing Book)
Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.

poets tennis

For a man to become a poet he must be in love, or miserable.
A poem needs nervous tension, like an arrow needs a bowstring.
A poem is never finishedβ€”it's always an accident that ends it.
Poetry . . . comes blood-warm straight out of the unconscious.
Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.
A poem is a witness to man's knowledge of evil as well as good.
Only poets care about what happened to the snows of yesteryear.
I know that poetry is indispensable, but to what I couldn't say.
Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
Poetry...shows with a sudden intense clarity what is already there.

clarity

A poem lies inert, like Sleeping Beauty, until we love it into life.
Poetry is either language lit up by life or life lit up by language.
Poetry.  A wire
Probes chasms among us, and
Touching, sparks a soul.
A poem is a form of refrigeration that keeps language from going bad.
Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.

reality

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.
The poet marries the language, and out of this marriage the poem is born.

poets

Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.
Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
If prose is a house, poetry is a man on fire running quite fast through it.
I often think of a poem as a door that opens into a room where I want to go.
For many years, I thought a poem was a whisper overheard, not an aria heard.
Poetry is a comforting piece of fiction set to more or less lascivious music.
A poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul.
One of the virtues of good poetry is the fact that it irritates the mediocre.
Many peptic ulcers and psychosomatic ailments are poems struggling to be born.

psychology

There was far more imagination in the head of Archimedes than in that of Homer.

science

You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.

adolescence

A poet is a man who puts up a ladder to a star and climbs it while playing a violin.

violin

In a poem, the words should be as pleasing to the ear as the meaning is to the mind.
You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. You will never have an idle hour.

poets

There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man.
If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
Poetry, I have insisted, is ultimately mythology, the telling of the stories of the soul.
β€” Stanley Kunitz (Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected)
Yet, it is true, poetry is delicious; the best prose is that which is most full of poetry.
Beneath the poetry of the texts, there is the actual poetry, without form and without text.
What are poems for? They are to console us
with their own gift, which is like perfect pitch.
We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

quarrels

A poem is language distilled into premium whiskey, no mix, no ice, no little paper umbrella.
Science is the labor and handicraft of the mind; poetry can only be considered its recreation.

science

As well as between tongue and teeth, poetry happens between the ears and behind the left nipple.
If people need to exercise the spirit as well as the body, then poetry is gymnastics for the soul.
My definition of poetry (if I were forced to give one) would be this: words that have become deeds.
It is as unseeing to ask what is the use of poetry as it would be to ask what is the use of religion.
Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.
And in a way a poem is like a wine glass in which you can hold up a little bit of reality and taste it.
β€” Gwen Harwood (Boundary Conditions: The Poetry of Gwen Harwood)
The figure a poem makes.  It begins in delight and ends in wisdom.  The figure is the same as for love.
Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.
Every good poem, in fact, is a bridge built from the known, familiar side of life over into the unknown.
What are poems but words
Set edgewise up like children's blocks
To build a structure no one can inhabit.
There is a view that poetry should improve your life.  I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.
A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.

poets

A poem releases itself, secretes itself slowly, sometimes almost poisonously, into the mind of the reader.
The crown of literature is poetry.  It is its end and aim.  It is the sublimest activity of the human mind.
For what is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding?  It is the 
deepest part of autobiography.
Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art.
Touched by poetry, language is more fully language and at the same time is no longer language: it is a poem.
I have met with women whom I really think would like to be married to a poem and to be given away by a novel.

novels

I would define, in brief, the poetry of words as the rhythmical creation of beauty.  Its sole arbiter is taste.
In the end, the poem is not a thing we see; it is, rather, a light by which we may seeβ€”and what we see is life.
As soon as war is declared it will be impossible to hold the poets back.  Rhyme is still the most effective drum.

poets war

Poems in a way are spells against death.  They are milestones, to see where you were then from where you are now.
Of all things of thought, poetry is the closest to thought, and a poem is less a thing than any other work of art.
If poetry is like an orgasm, an academic can be likened to someone who studies the passion-stains on the bedsheets.

academics

Poems, like dreams, are a sort of royal road to the unconscious. They tell you what your secret self cannot express.
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.  To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic.
Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

emotion

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
β€” P. B. Shelley (Essays, Letters From Abroad, Translations and Fragments)
Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.
All great poetry is dipped in the dyes of the heart, and is, in Emerson's phrase, "a larger imbibing of the common heart."
Writing a poem is like a short love affair, writing a short story like a long love affair, writing a novel like a marriage.

novels stories

My method is simple: not to bother about poetry.  It must come of its own accord.  Merely whispering its name drives it away.
β€” Jean Cocteau (Professional Secrets: An Autobiography)
A good poem is like a bouillon cube.  It's concentrated, you carry it around with you, and it nourishes you when you need it.
The notion of expressing sentiments in short lines having similar sounds at the ends seems as remote as mangoes on thee moon.

poets

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
Poetry is an attenuation, a rehandling, an echo of crude experience; it is itself a theoretic vision of things at arm's length.
β€” George Santayana (Little Essays: Drawn From the Writings of George Santayana)
The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft.  You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
A long poem is a test of invention which I take to be the polar star of poetry, as fancy is the sails, and imagination the rudder.

imagination

A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.
Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,
overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way
to get from here to there.
The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal woundβ€”that he will never get over it.

reading

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.
Poetry is the purest of the language arts.  It's the tightest cage, and if you can get to sing in that cage it's really really wonderful.
It is a violence from within that protects us from a violence without.  It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.
β€” Wallace Stevens (The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination)
Poetry is above all a concentration of the power of language, which is the power of our ultimate relationship to everything in the universe.

concentration

Poetry should begin with emotion in the poet, and end with the same emotion in the reader.  The poem is simply the instrument of transference.
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.
The beginning of a poem is always a moment of tiny revelation, a new way of seeing something, which almost simultaneously attracts language to it.
And of poetry, the success is not attained when it lulls and satisfies, but when it astonishes and fires us with new endeavors after the unattainable.
Good poetry seems too simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets. Poetry is nothing but healthy speech.
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.

atoms

Poetry, in the most comprehensive application of the term, I take to be the flower of any kind of experience, rooted in truth, and issuing forth into beauty.
Poetry is certainly something more than good sense, but it must be good sense at all events; just as a palace is more than a house, but it must be a house, at least.
Poetry and eloquence are both alike expression or utterance of feeling. But if we may be excused the antithesis, we should say that eloquence is heard, poetry is overheard.
Poetry is a kind of attentiveness that permits one both the organized adventure of the nomad and the armchair security of the bank teller, a way of dabbling without being a dilettante.
By poetry we mean the art of employing words in such a manner as to produce an illusion on the imagination, the art of doing by means of words what the painter does by means of colors.
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.
It is a species of painting with words, in which the figures are happily conceived, ingeniously arranged, affectingly expressed, and recommended with all the warmth and harmony of coloring.
Poetry has been able to function quite directly as human interpretation of the raw, loose universe.  It is a mixture, if you will, of journalism and metaphysics, or of science and religion.
Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to keep watch over my thoughts, because, if a line of poetry strays into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to act.
I by no means rank poetry high in the scale of intelligenceβ€”this may look like affectation but it is my real opinion.  It is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake.
The poem is, then, a little myth of man's capacity for making life meaningful.  And in the end, the poem is not a thing we seeβ€”it is, rather, a light by which we may seeβ€”and what we see is life.
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.
Every age has its own poetry; in every age the circumstances of history choose a nation, a race, a class to take up the torch by creating situations that can be expressed or transcended only through poetry.
When power leads man toward 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.

power

For the creative impulses of men are always at war with their possessive impulses, and poetry, as we know, spring s from brooding on just those aspects of experience that most retard the swift advance of the acquisitive mind.
In a history of spiritual rupture, a social compact built on fantasy and collective secrets, poetry becomes more necessary than ever: it keeps the underground aquifers flowing; it is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.
β€” Adrienne Rich (What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics)
I've had people explain to me what one of my poems meant, and I've been surprised that it meant that to them. If a person can use a poem of mine to interpret her life or his life, good. I can't control that. Nor would I want to.
The poem comes in the form of a blessingβ€”"like rapture breaking on the mind," as I tried to phrase it in my youth.  Through the years I have found this gift of poetry to be life-sustaining, life-enhancing, and absolutely unpredictable.
β€” Stanley Kunitz (Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected)
A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a home-sickness or a love-sickness.  It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment.  A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words.
A year or two ago...I received from America a request that I would define poetry.  I replied that I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat, but that I thought we both recognized the object by the symptoms which it provokes in us.
It is certainly true to say that we know little about the judgment of contemporary poetry except that it is highly soluble in time.  There may be absolute external standards to judge the quality of petrol or detergent, but for art we have only the solitary communion of the individual with a particular work and its capacity to endure the acid test of time.
The reason why the hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the throat is constricted, the skin crawls and a shiver runs down the spine when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation of the White Goddess, or Muse, the Mother of All Living, the ancient power of fright or lustβ€”the female spider or the queen bee whose embrace is death.