Quotes about Poetry
Part I

Compiled by

Michael P. Garofalo




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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





Poetry is what gets lost in translation.  
-   Robert Frost





Poetry lies its way to truth.
-   John Ciardi





Poetry is the deification of reality.
-   Edith Sitwell





Poetry is ordinary language raised to the N th power.
-   Paul Engle





The language beneath the language:
This is poetry.
-   Andrea Pacione





Everyone has a talent, what is rare is the courage to follow
the talent to the dark place where it leads.
-   Erica Jong





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 is not the record of an event: it is an event.
-   Robert Lowell





Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is a speaking picture.
-   Simonides





Quotes about Poetry:  Part II





A poem should not mean but be.
-   Archibald MacLeish





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





If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet's voice 
and for a voice.  Reading a poem silently instead of saying a 
poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music
and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument.
-   Robert Pinsky





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





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





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





Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.
-   Jules de Gautier





A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
-   Paul Valery





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





We tend to be so bombarded with information, and we move so
quickly, that there is a tendency to treat everything on the surface
level and process things quickly.  This is antithetical to the kind of
openness and perception you have to have to be receptive to poetry.
-   Rita Dove





Poetry is being, not doing.
-   E.E. Cummings





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





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





The Poetry Notebooks of Michael P. Garofalo





It is true that the poet does not directly address his neighbors; but he does 
address a great congress of persons who dwell at the back of his mind, a 
congress of all those who have taught him and whom he has admired; they 
constitute his ideal audience and his better self. ... To this congress the poet 
speaks not of peculiar and personal things, but of what in himself is most 
common, most anonymous, most fundamental, most true of all men.
-   Richard Wilbur





Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.
-   Georges Braque





It's 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





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





With my whole body I taste these peaches,
I touch them and smell them.  Who speaks?
-   Wallace Stevens





Poetry gives you permission to feel.
- James Autry





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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





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

-   Charles Simic





The poetic myths are dead; and the poetic image, 
which is the myth of the individual, reigns in their stead.
-   C. Day Lewis





Of our conflicts with others we make rhetoric; 
of our conflicts with ourselves we make poetry. 
-   William Butler Yeats





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





Speech framed ... to be heard for its own sake and interest 
even over and above its interest of meaning.
-   Gerard Manley Hopkins





Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.
-   T. S. Eliot





Not philosophy, after all, not humanity, just the sheer joyous 
power of song, is the primal thing in poetry.
-   Max Beerbohm





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





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





Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.  
-   Carl Sandburg





Write drunk, revise sober.
-   Miller Williams





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





The degree in which a poet's imagination dominates reality is,
in the end, the exact measure of his importance and dignity.
-   George Santayana





We can only approach the gods through poetry.
-   Thomas Moore





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





I am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing
a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them
slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then,
which they appear to enjoy.
-   Dylan Thomas





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





"Therefore" is a word the poet must not know.  
-   André Gide





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 it's subject.
-   John Keats





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





Yet not too like, yet not so like to be
Too near, too clear, saving a little to endow
Our feigning with the strange unlike, whence springs
The difference that heavenly pity brings.
-   Wallace Stevens,  To the One of Fictive Music





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





Language that tells us, through a more or less emotional reaction,
something that can not be said.
-    E. A. Robinson





A musician must make music, an artist must paint, 
a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace 
with himself. What one can be, one must be.
-   Abraham Maslow





Genius is mainly an affair of energy, and poetry is mainly 
an affair of genius; therefore a nation whose spirit is 
characterized by energy may well be imminent in poetry.
-   Matthew Arnold





Poetry, in the past, was the center of our society, but with 
modernity it has retreated to the outskirts.  I think the exile 
of poetry is also the exile of the best of humankind.
- Octavio Paz





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





The gap between verse and poetry is enormous. 
Between good poetry and good prose the gap is much narrower.
-   Michael Longley





A poem is an instant of lucidity in which 
the entire organism participates.
-   Charles Simic





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





Poetry isn't written from the idea down.  It's written from 
the phrase, line and stanza up, which is different from 
what your teacher taught you to do in school.
-   Margaret Atwood




Poetry is a rich, full-bodied whistle, cracked ice crunching in pails, 
the night that numbs the leaf, the duel of two nightingales, 
the sweet pea that has run wild ...
-   Boris Pasternak





The two most engaging powers of an author are to 
make new things familiar, and familiar things new.
-   Samuel Johnson





Poetry which owes no man anything, owes nevertheless one debt -- 
an image of the world in which men can again believe.
Archibald MacLeish





Poetry is a language pared down to its essentials.
-   Ezra Pound





It is the timber of poetry that wears most surely, 
and there is no timber that has not strong roots 
among the clay and worms.
-   John Synge





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





Poetic power is great, strong as a primitive instinct; 
it has its own unyielding rhythms in itself and 
breaks out as out of mountains.  
-   Ranier Maria Rilke





"Superb online directory compiled by Michael P. Garofalo featuring 
all the best concrete poetry sites on the WWW."

Christina Conrad, Performance Poetry Websites





Poetry allows one to speak with a power 
that is not granted by our culture.
-   Linda McCarriston





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





Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't
mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.
-   Edward R. Murrow





As I get older, I recognize that my thinking about poetry may or
may not have anything actively to do with my actual work as a 
poet.  This strikes me as no thing cynically awry but rather 
seems again instance of that hapless or possibly happy fact,
we do not as humans seem necessarily aware of what we are 
physically or psychically doing at all!
-   Robert Creeley





Quotes about Gardening and the Green Way





Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.  
-   Robert Frost





What line breaks add to prose prosody is a connection between eye 
and ear which emphasizes the nature of the language by ... creating 
units of intent and emphasis, and by contouring the meloding pitch 
changes in the narrative-line.
-   Diane Wakoski





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





Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
-   Plato





As a tool of cognition, poetry beats any existing form of analysis 
(a) because it pares down our reality to its linguistic essentials, 
whose interplay, be it clash or fusion, yields epiphany or revelation, 
and (b) because it exploits the rhythmic and euphonic properties 
of the language that in themselves are revelatory.
- Joseph Brodsky





Assist me some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am sure
I shall turn sonneteer.  Devise, wit, write, pen; for I am 
for whole volumes in folio.
-   William Shakespeare





The art which uses words as both speech and song to reveal
the realities that the senses record, the feelings salute, the 
mind perceives, and the shaping imagination orders. 
-   Babettes Deutsch





A poet's object is not to tell what actually happened but what 
could or would happen either probably or inevitably ....   For 
this reason poetry is something more scientific and serious 
than history, because poetry tends to give general truths 
while history gives particular facts.
-   Aristotle






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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.
-   William Sumerset Maugham





As naturally as the oak bears an acorn and the vine a gourd, 
man bears a poem, either spoken or done.

-   Henry David Thoreau





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





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





What is a poem but a hazardous attempt at self-understanding?
It is the deepest part of an autobiography.
-   Robert Penn Warren





A poem is a construction of inner space. 
Language is to inner space as light is to material space.
Sven Birkerts





Poetry is the suggestion, by the imagination, 
of noble grounds for noble emotions.
-   John Rushkin





A poet's work is to name the unnamable, to point 
at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the 
world, and stop it from going to sleep.  
-   Salman Rushdie





The artist does not tinker with the universe, he recreates it
out of his own experience and understanding of life.
-   Henry Miller





Poetic language honors polarities.  We use the language of 
poetry to provide the many levels of feeling, facets of knowing, 
simultaneously, so we can examine them and move forward.
- Peggy Osna Heller





With this pen I take in hand my selves
and with these dead disciples I will grapple.
Though rain curses the window
let the poem be made.
-   Anne Sexton





Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamers...
Bring me all of your Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.
-   Langston Hughes





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





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





There’s a sameness about American poetry that I don’t 
think represents the whole people.  It represents a poetry
of the moment, a poetry of evasion, and I have problems 
with this.  I believe poetry has always been political, long 
before poets had to deal with the page and white 
space . . . it’s natural.
-   Yusef Komunyakaa





You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some with you.
-   Joubert





The joy of poetry is that it will wait for you.  Novels don't wait for you. 
Characters change.  But poetry will wait.  
-   Sonia Sanchez





I think many people (like myself) prefer to read poetry mixed with prose;
it gives you more to go by; the conventions of poetry have been getting 
far off from normal life, so that to have a prose bridge makes
reading poetry seem more natural.
-   William Empson





Poetry is either something that lives like fire inside you - like music 
to the musician . . . or else it is nothing, an empty, formalised bore 
around which pedants can endlessly drone their notes and explanations.
-   F. Scott Fitzgerald





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





The poet doesn't invent.  He listens.  
-   Jean Cocteau





A good poem tells us a truth about the world; 
a bad poem tells us a truth about the author. 
-   Larry 






Mature art, I think, emerges when there's a certain balance 
of tensions, when there's neither neurotic prostration nor 
cold rationality, but an aura of energy and a drive to grasp 
personal "truths" still emerging into perception.
To grasp and to shape them.
-   Earle Birney





Poetry is of so subtle a spirit, that in the pouring out 
of one language into another it will evaporate.
-   John Denham





A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in 
thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times. 
-   Randall Jarell





Nature scarcely ever gives us the very best; 
for that we must have recourse to art.
   -   Baltasar Gracian





When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
-   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe





Here undoubtedly lies the chief poetic energy: 
the force of imagination that pierces or exalts the 
solid fact, instead of floating among cloud-pictures.
-   George Eliot





Poetry expresses the idea; song regulates the sounds; 
dance enlivens the attitudes; these three have their 
principal in man's heart, and it is only the later that 
musical instruments lend their help.

-   Li Chi, Record of Rites





In the mouth of a competent speaker, the poem is suddenly
whole and alive, a spirit. It transcends the austere silence 
of the page.  If only for a moment, all chariot and whirlwind.
-   John Pach





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





The nonmimetic character of language is thus, in a certain way, 
the opportunity and the condition for poetry to exist.  Poetry 
exists only to "renumerate" in other words, to repair and 
compensate for the "defect of languages." 
-   Gerard Genette





As to the pure mind all things are pure, 
so to the poetic mind all things are poetical.
-   Henry W. Longfellow





Poetry is the music of the soul, and, 
above all, of great and feeling souls.
-   Voltaire




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





I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry.
-   John Cage





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





Contemporary poetry ... tries to transform the sign back into meaning: 
its ideal, ultimately, would be to reach not the meaning of words, but the 
meaning of things themselves.  This is why it clouds the language, increases
as much as it can the abstractness of the concept and the arbitrariness
of the sign and stretches to the limit the link between signifier and signified.
-   Barthes





I write first drafts with only the good angel on my shoulder, the voice
that approves of everything I write. This voice does'nt ask questions
like, Is this good? Is this a poem? Are you a poet?  I keep this voice
at a distance, letting only the good angel whisper to me: Trust yourself.
You can't worry a poem into existence.
-   Georgia Heard





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





A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it, 
by way of the poem itself, all the way over to the reader.
-   Charles Olson





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





Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me.
-   Sigmund Freud





Those who are not very concerned with art want poems or pictures 
to record for them something they already know - as one might 
want a picture of a place he loves.
-   George Oppen





A poem is a verbal artifact which must be as skillfully
and solidly constructed as a table or a motorcycle.
-   W. H. Auden





Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, 
is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, 
in a sense, against actuality.
-   James Joyce





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





Poetry is ... the physical enactment of a process 
of knowing by means of language.
-   Mark Doty





Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.  
-   Percy Shelley





We learn to treasure words that people call us; 
we learn to live by words that hurt.  We cannot toss
them aside, so in time they become our dignity.
-   Mark Doty





Such souls,
Whose sudden visitations daze the world,
Vanish like lightning, but they leave behind
A voice that in the distance far away
Wakens the slumbering ages.
-   Henry Taylor





You arrive at truth through poetry; 
I arrive at poetry through truth.
-  Joubert





Quotes about Poetry Part II





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





With this pen I take in hand my selves
and with these dead disciples I will grapple.
Though rain curses the window
let the poem be made.
-   Anne Sexton





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





I never find words right away.  Poems for me always begin 
with images and rhythms, shapes, feelings, forms, dances 
in the back of my mind.
-   Gary Snyder





My poetry, I should think, has become the way of 
my giving out what music is within me.
-   Countee Cullen





Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. 
It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the 
feeling, for as soon as the mind responds and connects 
with the thing the feeling shows in the words.
-   Wei T'ai





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





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





Poetry proceeds from the totality of man, sense, imagination, 
intellect, love, desire, instinct, blood and spirit together.
-   Jacques Maritain





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





I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. 
Writing a poem is discovering.
-   Robert Frost





The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. 
You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.
-   James Fenton





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





Cuttings:  Short Poems by Michael P. Garofalo






Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with 
emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.  
-   Paul Engle





I don't look at poetry as closed works.  I feel 
they're going on all the time in my head and 
I occasionally snip off a length.
-   John Ashbery





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





Nothing whips my blood like verse.
-  Willam Carlos Williams





No good poem, however confessional it may be, is just self-expression. 
Who on earth would claim that the pearl expresses the oyster.
-  C. Day Lewis





The poet ... may be used as a barometer, 
but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.  
-   Lionel Trilling





There are two ways of disliking poetry, one way is to dislike it, 
the other is to read Pope.

-   Oscar Wilde





By making us stop for a moment, poetry gives us an 
opportunity to think about ourselves as human beings 
on this planet and what we mean to each other.
-   Rita Dove





When a thing has been said and well, have no scruple. 
Take it and copy it.
-   Anatole France





"Mike Garofalo's Poetry Notebook pages have some of the best and up-to-date
haiku weblinkage available.  These are well organized into alphabetical order, author
order, haiku resources, teaching haiku (by age group!!!), classic haijin, and more.
This is an all-time best site for haijin! *****
A great place for gardeners, haijin and philosophers to wander
for hours; an ongoing act of creativity."

Debra Woolard Bender, Paper Lanterns





Poetry amounts to arranging words with the greatest specific
gravity in the most effective and externally inevitable sequence.
-   Joseph Brodsky





Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry.  With both you 
are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.
-   Gabriel García Márquez





Language ...is an infinitude of used or potential poems 
waiting to be molded into new realities.
-   Friedrich




Haiku and Zen Poems





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Quotes about Poetry

Links and References



As the Poet Said.   Edited by Tony Curtis.   Dublin, Poetry Ireland.  

Cuttings:  Haiku and Short Poems

Esoterica   13K.   

Essays and Fragments

Famous Poetry Quotes   5K

Favorite Poetry Quotations   3K

For the Love of Poetry     10K

Nothingness:  Literary Quotes

Poetry: Definitions, Theories, Observations, Quips Part I
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.   Quotes about Poetry.  Includes many links.  70K.

Poetry: Definitions, Theories, Observations, Quips Part II     
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo.   Quotes about Poetry.  60K.

PoetryJones.org   12K

Quotations About Poetry

Quotations About Poetry    16K

Quotations about Poetry and Poets    14K

Quotations about Writing

Quotations and Famous Quotes Dictionary

Quotations Archive

Quotes about Poetry Part I      70K   

Quotes about Poetry Part II     60K

Quotes (about poetry)    16K

Quotes about Poetry   6K

Quotes for Gardeners
.  Over 2,500 quotations organized by 130 topics.  3MB

Quotes for Poets E-mail Newsletter Homepage

Quotes for Poets from Poets


Some Literary Criticism Quotes    100K+

The Waves Keep on Rolling    5K





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Haiku and Short Poems
Links, References, Guides






Short Poems by Michael P. Garofalo
Quatrains, Couplets, Haiku, Free Verse, Fragments



Quotes for Gardeners

Quotes, Sayings, Proverbs, Poetry, Maxims, Quips, Clichés, Adages, Wisdom
A Collection Growing to Over 2,700 Quotes Arranged by Over 130 Topics
Many of the Documents Include Recommended Readings and Internet Links.
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo





The Spirit of Gardening







I Welcome Your Comments, Ideas and Suggestions
E-mail Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California

A Short Biography of Mike Garofalo

Mike Garofalo's Poetry Notebook II

Quotes about Poetry Part I.


The Spirit of Gardening

Quotes for Gardeners

Haiku and Zen Poetry

Cuttings:  Short Poems and Haiku by Michael P. Garofalo

Quotes about Poetry:  Part II



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