Poets Quotes

Most popular poets quotes

Poets are born, not paid.
A poet is a state of mind.
All a poet can do today is warn.
Not deep the Poet sees, but wide.
Language, the machine of the poet.


I had a lover's quarrel with the world.


The poet is the priest of the invisible.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
A poet can survive everything but a misprint.
Poets are the leaven in the lump of civilization.
My poems are hymns of praise to the glory of life.
A poet looks at the world as a man looks at a woman.
The great poet, in writing himself, writes his time.
To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it.
He has plenty of music in him, but he cannot get it out.
A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.
There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only poets know.

pleasure and pain

I lie in wait like a leopard on a branch-strained metaphor.
Should poets bicycle-pump the human heart
Or squash it flat?
Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.

poetry tennis

What his imagination is to the poet, facts are to the historian.

facts history imagination

A poet never takes notes. You never take notes in a love affair.
Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.

why I write

A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is a joke.
I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil.
He lives on pain, and sells his utter
Grief for roses, bread, and butter.
The poet marries the language, and out of this marriage the poem is born.


The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.


Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
A poet's hope: to be,
like some valley cheese,
local, but prized elsewhere.
A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else can be only a footnote.
Poets, you see, are literal-minded men who will squeeze a word till it hurts.
The poets have familiarized more people with history than have the historians.


Inspiration is a farce that poets have invented to give themselves importance.


I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew.  Writing a poem is discovering.
You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.


Poets are in the beginning hypotheses, in the middle facts, and in the end values.
Wherever one cut him, with a little question, he poured, spurted fountains of ideas.
A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. You will never have an idle hour.


I am governed by the pull of the sentence as the pull of a fabric is governed by gravity.
A true poet does not bother to be poetical.  Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.
That is what all poets do: they talk to themselves out loud; and the world overhears them.
For me, a poet is someone who is "in contact."  Someone through whom a current is passing.
I look at a finished poem of mine as a cobbler looks at a pair of boots: I sell for profit.
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.
Poets are the policemen of language, they are always arresting those old reprobates the words.
I am in the path of Blake, but so far behind him that only the wings of his heels are in sight.
There's room for only one person...at the top of the steeple...I always meant that person to be me.
A Poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness, and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.
A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.


A poet hurts himself by writing prose; as a racehorse hurts his motions by condescending to draw in a team.
The tremendous fun of writing in rhyme is reeling in whatever it is you've caught and being surprised by it.
If God made poets for anything, it was to keep alive the traditions of the pure, the holy, and the beautiful.
Don't ask who's influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he's digested, and I've been reading all my life.


For ne'er
Was flattery lost on poet's ear:
A simple race!
They waste their toil
For the vain tribute of a smile.


He was...a man of an immense head and great jaws like a crocodile's, cast in a mold designed for prodigious work.
A poet ought not to pick nature's pocket: let him borrow, and so borrow as to repay by the very act of borrowing.
As soon as war is declared it will be impossible to hold the poets back.  Rhyme is still the most effective drum.

poetry war

Dryden's genius was of that sort which catches fire by its own motion: his chariot-wheels got hot by driving fast.
It is important for the poet not to be emotional because you cannot see the world clearly with tears in your eyes.
If the poet tries to split himself in two between the man and the poet, he will invariably commit suicide as an artist.
Too many people in the modern world view poetry as a luxury, not a necessity like petrol.  But to me it's the oil of life.
I've been to a lot of places and done a lot of things, but writing was always first. It's a kind of pain I can't do without.

why I write

He who draws noble delights from the sentiment of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life.
The notion of expressing sentiments in short lines having similar sounds at the ends seems as remote as mangoes on thee moon.


His expression may often be called bald...but it is bald as the bare mountain tops are bald, with a baldness full of grandeur.
For me, it's like Jacob wrestling with the angel.  In every encounter with a poem there is a possibility of an abysmal failure.
The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.


When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.


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.
They 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.
Auden of the last years, when he had begun to resemble in his own person an ample, flopping, ambulatory volume of the OED in carpet slippers.
My ideas were completely immature.  I was simply developing my poetic muscles.  I swung alliterations, rhymes, and metaphors like Indian clubs.
Poets and painters are outside the class system, or rather they constitute a special class of their own, like the circus people and the gypsies.
Every individual ought to know at least one poet from cover to cover: if not as a guide through the world, then as a yardstick for the language.
Being a minor poet is like being minor royalty.  And no one, as a former lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret once explained to me, is happy as that.
The true poet is just such a fortunate creation as the elusive crab.  He is born wary and is frequently in retreat because he is a protector of the human spirit.
The poems were hypnotic....  They were unapologetically female.  An Amazon wrote them riding bareback.  She had cut off one breast and dipped her quill in blood.
For the poet, the imagination is paramount, and . . . he dwells apart in his imagination, as the philosopher dwells in his reason, and as the priest dwells in his belief.
A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times; a dozen or two dozen times and he is great.
A poet must be a psychologist, but a secret one: he should know and feel the roots of phenomena but present only the phenomena themselves—in full bloom or as they fade away.
Poets are always in search of the right word, the adjective that is inevitable,
Because an ill-chosen adjective induces levity in the reader, and no poet wishes to be levitable.

parts of speech

Experience has taught me, when I am shaving...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.
For me a true poem is on the way when I begin to be haunted, when it seems as if I were being asked an inescapable question by an angel with whom I must wrestle to get at the answer.
Novelists, playwrights, painters and others may hold in their heads the expectation of fame, but not poets.  Having chosen that road, all one can dream of is the jealousy of one's rivals.


If they had said that the sun or the moon had gone out of the heavens, it could not have struck me with the idea of a more awful and dreary blank in creation than the words: "Byron is dead!"
Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants.  If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household.
The poet, it is true, is an effect of environment, but we must remember that he is no less a cause.  He may be used as the barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.
Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job.
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.
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.
The poet avoids the entire vocabulary of logic unless for satiric purposes, and treats words as living creatures with a preference for those with long emotional histories dating from mediaeval times.  Poetry at its purest is, indeed, a defiance of logic.
There are some poets, Kipling for example, whose relation to language reminds one of a drill sergeant: the words are taught to wash behind their ears, stand properly at attention and execute complicated maneuvers, but at the cost of never being allowed to think for themselves.
When you're really caught up in writing a poem, it can be a form of prayer.  I'm not very good at praying, but what I experience when I'm writing a poem is close to prayer.  I feel it in different degrees and not with every poem.   But in certain ways writing is a form of prayer.
Writing a poem for me is putting myself in a very odd state indeed in which I am excessively sensitive to interruption—I can hear, or think I can hear, people doing disturbing things behind shut doors three houses off—and really suffer very painfully, as though I were performing a major operation on my own skull.