POETRY♠
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Poem for Today

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

~Leonard Cohen
The Leonard Cohen Files

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

~Kahlil Gibran
Allspirit - Selections from the Works of Kahlil Gibran

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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

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There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.  

~Robert Graves, 1962 
The Robert Graves Archive

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Poetry is what gets lost in translation.  

~Robert Frost

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Imaginary gardens with real toads in them.  

~Marianne Moore's definition of poetry, "Poetry," Collected Poems, 1951

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A poem is never finished, only abandoned. 

 ~Paul Valéry
Paul Valéry Studies - Newcastle upon Tyne - Paul Valery

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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
George Sand

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Always be a poet, even in prose.  

~Charles Baudelaire, "My Heart Laid Bare," Intimate Journals, 1864
Charles Baudelaire

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Poets are soldiers that liberate words from the steadfast possession of definition.  

~Eli Khamarov, The Shadow Zone

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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
Carl Sandburg - Chicago Poems

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Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.  

~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821

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Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.  

~Plato, Ion

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Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.  

~W.B. Yeats
the official Yeats society sligo website

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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

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Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. 

 ~Carl Sandburg

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Poetry should... should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.  

~John Keats

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A poet can survive everything but a misprint.  

~Oscar Wilde

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To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.

~Emily Dickinson

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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

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A poem begins with a lump in the throat. 

~Robert Frost

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Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.  

~Percy Byshe Shelley

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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, "Every Man's Natural Desire to Be Somebody Else" The Dame School of Experience, 1920

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Poetry is man's rebellion against being what he is.  

~James Branch Cabell

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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."  

~Soren Kierkegaard

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"Therefore" is a word the poet must not know.  

~André Gide

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

~Richard Rosen

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

~Stephen Mallarme

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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.  

~W.B. Yeats

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If the author had said "Let's us put on appropriate galoshes," there could, of course, have been no poem.  

~ Unknown

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Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.  

~Novalis

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There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.  

~John Cage

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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

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Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.  

~Christopher Fry

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

~Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy's Wessex - Thomas Hardy and his Wessex - the author ...

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The poet doesn't invent.  He listens.  

~Jean Cocteau
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Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that.  Poetry is as precise as geometry.  

~Gustave Flaubert

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Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.  

~Charles Simic

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The only problem
with Haiku is that you just
get started and then

~ Unknown

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To have great poets there must be great audiences too.  

~Walt Whitman

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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

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

~Thomas Babington Macaulay

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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

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You can't write poetry on the computer.  

~Quentin Tarantino

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Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young.  

~Sainte-Beuve, Portraits littéraires, 1862

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

~Allen Tate

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

~Joseph Joubert

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God is the perfect poet.  

~Robert Browning

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Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know.  

~Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest

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Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.  

~Carl Sandburg

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The worst fate of a poet is to be admired without being understood.  

~Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel á l'ordre, 1926

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Poetry is life distilled.  

~Gwendolyn Brooks

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Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.  

~Thomas Gray
The Thomas Gray archive

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He lives the poetry that he cannot write.  The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.  

~Oscar Wilde

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Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.  

~Robert Frost

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

~John Ciardi, Simmons Review, Fall 1962

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Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.  

~William Hazlitt

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A poet's autobiography is his poetry.  Anything else is just a footnote.  

~Yevgeny Yentushenko, The Sole Survivor, 1982

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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

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Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.  

~T.S. Eliot, Dante, 1920

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Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows.  

~Edmund Burke

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

~Robert Frost

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Poetry, like the moon, does not advertise anything.  

~William Blissett

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

~Robert Frost

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If you've got a poem within you today, I can guarantee you a tomorrow.  

~Terri Guillemets

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A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.  

~Wallace Stevens, Opus Posthumous, 1957

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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.  

Dead Poet's Society

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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 Individual Talent, 1919

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Each memorable verse of a true poet has two or three times the written content.  

~Alfred de Musset, Le Poète déchu, 1839

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Poetry is ordinary language raised to the nth power.  Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.  

~Paul Engle, New York Times, 17 February 1957

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I don't create poetry, I create myself, for me my poems are a way to me.  

~Edith Södergran

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I would as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down.  

~Robert Frost, 1935

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

~Robinson Jeffers

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He who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite.  

~Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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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

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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, 22 March 1958

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A poem should not mean
But be.

~Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica, 1926

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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

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Breathe-in experience,
breathe-out poetry.

~Muriel Rukeyser

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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,, 14 November 1985

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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

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Poets aren't very useful
Because they aren't consumeful or very produceful.

~Ogden Nash

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What is a Professor of Poetry?  How can poetry be professed?  

~W.H. Auden

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

~Jean Cocteau

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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

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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

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

~Jean Cocteau

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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

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

~Rene Char

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Poetry is nobody's business except the poet's, and everybody else can fuck off.  

~Philip Larkin

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[A poem] begins in delight and ends in wisdom.  

~Robert Frost, "The Figure a Poem Makes," Collected Poems of Robert Frost, 1939

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Poetry comes with anger, hunger and dismay; it does not often visit groups of citizens sitting down to be literary together, and would appall them if it did.  

~Christopher Morley, John Mistletoe

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The poet, as everyone knows, must strike his individual note sometime 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

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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

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Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.  

~Edgar Allan Poe

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To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.  

~Robert Frost

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Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.  

~Carl Sandburg

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Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.  

~Samuel Johnson

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I've written some poetry I don't understand myself.  

~Carl Sandburg

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The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. 

~Jean Cocteau

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

~Don Marquis

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No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers.  

~Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires

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The poetry of the earth is never dead.  

~John Keats

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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

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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

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Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.  

~Rita Dove

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


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

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

~Dennis Gabor

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 Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

~T.S. Eliot, American-born English poet

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Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

 ~ Percy Byshe Shelley (1792-1822) 

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

 ~ Rene Char

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

 ~ Jean Cocteau, French writer 

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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

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A poem is true if it hangs together.  Information points to something else.  A poem points to nothing but itself.

 -- E.M. Forster 

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It is no longer possible for lyric poetry to express the immensity of our experience. Life has grown too cumbersome, too complicated. We have acquired values which are best expressed in prose.       

~ Boris Pasternak 

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A poem is never finished, only abandoned.  

~ Paul Valery (1871-1945)   

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Poetry is many things to many people. For me, poetry is an epistemological bridge over the chasm that separates an individual and a truth. Poetry is a nomadic destination, always only an inspiration away. Poetry is exploratory, probing intuitions and conditions. Poetry is also the shell the inspiration leaves behind as an identity navigational device.  

~ Albert Emerson Unaterra (1952-2002), American writer 

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I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
 

~ Joyce Kilmer 

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In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite. 

~ Paul Dirac (1902-1984)

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A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.

 ~ Wallace Stevens 

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Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) 

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To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.

 ~ Robert Frost, American poet

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 Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.

 ~ Edgar Allan Poe 

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I take as metaphysical poetry that in which what is ordinarily apprehensible only by thought is brought within the grasp of feeling, or that in which what is ordinarily only felt is transformed into thought without ceasing to be feeling. 

~ T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)

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 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, American poet

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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, Irish poet

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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 his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.      

~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-63), 35th US President

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The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.

~ Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970) 

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The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.  

~ John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)
 

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The one man who should never attempt an explanation of a poem is its author. If the poem can be improved by its author's explanations it never should have been published, and if the poem cannot be improved by its author's explanations the explanations are scarcely worth reading.

~ Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), American poet 

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I take as metaphysical poetry that in which what is ordinarily apprehensible only by thought is brought within the grasp of feeling, or that in which what is ordinarily only felt is transformed into thought without ceasing to be feeling.  

~ T. S. Eliot (188 - 1965)

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The poet, as everyone knows, must strike his individual note sometime 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, American writer

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