Quotes About Poetry

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

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Quotes About Poetry

Poetry is the poetic expression of the universe’s hidden beauty and symmetry, and the heart-ravishing, smiling view of existence by sensitive, inspired souls. Among them are those whose hearts have become ink-pots and whose ink is the breath of the Holy Spirit. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Poetry is the sound heard while delving into the beyond, and the moan coming from those so engaged. Its sounds and tunes are sometimes uproarious and sometimes fine, for they depend on the poet’s spiritual condition and inner depth. For this reason, poetry’s every word and sound can be comprehended fully only if the hearer knows the poet’s spiritual state at the time of his or her poem’s conception. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Poetry is born and takes shape according to the belief, culture, and style of thought affecting the poet’s view and sensitivity. Only inspiration deepens it and causes it to transcend consciousness. In a heart that is exuberant with inspiration, an atom becomes a sun and a drop becomes an ocean. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Regardless of how great the role of intelligence and thought is in poetry, the human heart has a deep direction of its own. In Fuzûlî’s words: “My word is the carrier of standard before the army of poets.” When thoughts growing in the heart put on the wings of imagination, they begin to force the doors of infinity. – M. Fethullah Gulen

The character which means “poetry”, in the ancient Chinese Great Seal script style. 

Poetry, like entreaty, expresses the ups and downs as well as the enthusiasm and sadness of the individual’s inner world. To the extent the poet concentrates on exalted truths, the resulting poems become like breaths from beyond. Every supplication is a poem, and every poem is a supplication, provided the poem flutters wings toward infinity.  – M. Fethullah Gulen

A poem that grows in the thought of infinity and flies in the skies of pure thought with the heart’s wings and the spirit’s strength does not pay too much attention to positive thought. It uses the material, concrete world only as a vehicle. It aims only to find and catch the abstract. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Poetry is far more than rhymed speech, for many phrases that are not metrical attract the spirit and awaken wonder and amazement in the heart with their meaning and way of expression. Each is a monument of poetry in itself. – M. Fethullah Gulen

Like every branch of art, poetry that has no connection with the infinite is barren and dim. The human spirit fascinated with infinite beauty, the human heart obsessed with infinity, and the human conscience longing for the eternal and eternity plead with artists to delve into the beyond. An artist who resists this plea spends a lifetime imitating the external face of things but is never able to see beyond this curtain of lace. – M. Fethullah Gulen

A poem that considers form and meaning in the relationship resembling that between the spirit and body, without sacrificing one to the other, will attain a harmony that everyone will like and find natural. Even the imagination will be unable to suggest a new motif for such a poem. – M. Fethullah Gulen

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

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, from The Devil’s Pool.

Quotes About Poetry

Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does. — Allen Ginsberg, from Ginsberg, A Biography.

To be a poet is a condition, not a profession. — Robert Graves

Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art. — Thomas Hardy

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 should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance. — John Keats

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

It is a test [that] genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. — T. S. Eliot

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. — William Wordsworth

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry. — William Butler Yeats

‘Therefore’ is a word the poet must not know. — Andre Gide

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

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

The poet is the priest of the invisible. — Wallace Stevens

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

There is no money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either. – Robert Graves

There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away, / Nor any Coursers like a Page / Of prancing Poetry. – Emily Dickinson

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

If you tell a novelist, ‘Life’s not like that’, he has to do something about it. The poet simply replies, ‘No, but I am.’ – Philip Larkin

Poetry is not the books in the library. Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book. – Jorge Luis Borges

As a poet I would say everything should be able to come into a poem but I can’t put toothbrushes in a poem. I really can’t. – Sylvia Plath

Poetry is play. I’d even rather have you think of it as a sport. For instance, like football. – Robert Frost

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

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

Poetry is life distilled. – Gwendolyn Brooks

Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting. – Simonides

Prose is a museum where all the old weapons of poetry are kept. – T. E. Hulme

A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms to be struck by lightning 5 or 6 times. – Randall Jarrell

Quotes About Poetry

Poetry is talking on tiptoe. – George Meredith

Poetry is a religion with no hope. – Jean Cocteau

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. – Robert Frost

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

Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking. – John Wain

Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone. – Adrienne Rich

Poetry is about as much a ‘criticism of life’ as red-hot iron is a criticism of fire. – Ezra Pound

Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. – Don Marquis

Poetry must be new as foam, and as old as the rock. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul. – John Keats

Poetry is the only art people haven’t yet learnt to consume like soup. – W. H. Auden

Not deep the poet sees, but wide. – Matthew Arnold

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

To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet. – Thomas Hardy

Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry. – Gustave Flaubert

Prose = words in their best order; – poetry = the best words in the best order. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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

Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal but which the reader recognizes as his own. – Salvatore Quasimodo

Quotes About Poetry

Poetry is the deification of reality. – Edith Sitwell

A poet’s autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote. – Yevgeny Yentushenko

There are two ways of disliking poetry. One way is to dislike it, and the other is to read Pope. – Oscar Wilde

In the house of poetry nothing endures that is not written with blood to be heard with blood. – Pablo Neruda

For next to being a great poet is the power of understanding one. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation. – Robert Frost

Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg

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

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. – T. S. Eliot

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. – Emily Dickinson

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

The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world in spite of History. – Derek Walcott

Eloquence is heard; poetry is overheard. – John Stuart Mill

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

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history. – Plato

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

Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry. – Julian Barnes

A poet’s work … to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep. – Salman Rushdie

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

What the world wants, what the world is waiting for, is not Modern Poetry or Classical Poetry or Neo-Classical Poetry — but Good Poetry. And the dreadful disreputable doubt, which stirs in my own sceptical mind, is doubt about whether it would really matter much what style a poet chose to write in, in any period, as long as he wrote Good poetry. – G. K Chesterton

Always be a poet, even in prose. – Charles Baudelaire

Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them. – Friedrich Nietzsche

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

You must have a certain amount of maturity to be a poet. Seldom do sixteen-year-olds know themselves well enough. – Erica Jong

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity. – William Wordsworth

Quotes About Poetry

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. – T.S. Eliot

Poetry cannot breathe in the scholar’s atmosphere. – Henry David Thoreau

‘Therefore’ is a word the poet must not know. – Andre Gide

Don’t write love poems when you’re in love. Write them when you’re not in love. – Richard Hugo

Be brief, be buoyant, and be brilliant. – Brander Matthews

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

Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something. Don’t use such an expression as ‘dim land of peace’. It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realising that the natural object is always the adequate symbol. Go in fear of abstractions. – Ezra Pound

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 what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own. – Dylan Thomas

The poet is the priest of the invisible. – Wallace Stevens

Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings. – W.H. Auden

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. –Emily Dickinson

Modesty is a virtue not often found among poets, for almost every one of them thinks himself the greatest in the world. – Miguel de Cervantes

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

Poets aren’t very useful. / Because they aren’t consumeful or very produceful. – Ogden Nash

I believe that every English poet should read the English classics, master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them, travel abroad, experience the horrors of sordid passion, and – if he is lucky enough – know the love of an honest woman. – Robert Graves

What makes you a poet is a gift for language, an ability to see into the heart of things, and an ability to deal with important unconscious material. When all these things come together, you’re a poet. But there isn’t one little gimmick that makes you a poet. There isn’t any formula for it. – Erica Jong

One of my secret instructions to myself as a poet is: “Whatever you do, don’t be boring.” – Anne Sexton

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. – Oscar Wilde

Quotes About Poetry

  • The poetry is the Earth, charming; The river, flowing from lofty mountains; Nature, a young woman and a heavenly plant with blossoming flowers, slinking in the garden of the mind.
    • Manmohan Acharya, Gita Milindam [Song of the Bumblebee] (2008).
  • You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.
    • John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams (14 May 1781).
  • To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.
    • Theodor Adorno, Cultural Criticism and Society (1949).
  • The crown of literature is poetry.
    • Matthew Arnold, Essays in Criticism (1888) “Count Leo Tolstoi”.
  • Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history; for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.
    • Aristotle, Poetics (335) 1451b 6.
  • Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is still the best: ‘memorable speech’.
    • W. H. Auden, introduction to The Poet’s Tongue (1935), p. v.
  • Poetry is itself a thing of God;
    He made his prophets poets; and the more
    We feel of poesie do we become
    Like God in love and power,—under-makers.

    • Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), Proem, line 5.
  • All poetry is misrepresentation.
    • Jeremy Bentham, An Aphorism attributed to him according to John Stuart Mill (see Mill’s essay On Bentham and Coleridge in Utilitarianism edt. by Mary Warnock p. 123).
  • As part of the spring ritual of National Poetry Month, poets are symbolically dragged into the public square in order to be humiliated with the claim that their product has not achieved sufficient market penetration and must be revived by the Artificial Resuscitation Foundation (ARF) lest the art form collapse from its own incompetence, irrelevance, and as a result of the general disinterest among the broad masses of the American People. The motto of ARF’s National Poetry Month is: “Poetry’s not so bad, really.”
    • Charles Bernstein, “Against National Poetry Month As Such”, from My Way: Speeches and Poems, 1999, University Of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226044092.
  • Poetry must find ways of breaking distance.… all languages are dialects that are made to break new grounds.
    • Giannina Braschi, Yo-Yo Boing! (1998).
  • Poetry worthy of its name is measured by the degree of abstention, of refusal, it implies, and that negative component of its nature must be maintained as essential: it balks at tolerating anything already seen, heard, agreed upon, at using anything already used except when diverting it from its previous function.
    • André Breton, “A Great Black Poet,” included as preface to 1947 edition of Cahier d’un retour au pays natal
  • By failing to read or listen to poets, society dooms itself to inferior modes of articulation, those of the politician, the salesman, or the charlatan. In other words, it forfeits its own evolutionary potential. For what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom is precisely the gift of speech. Poetry is not a form of entertainment and in a certain sense not even a form of art, but it is our anthropological, genetic goal. Our evolutionary, linguistic beacon.
    • Joseph Brodsky, his opening remarks as United States Poet Laureate in October, 1991.
  • You speak
    As one who fed on poetry.

    • Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (1839), Act I, scene 1.
  • Poetry is the art of substantiating shadows, and of lending existence to nothing.
    • Edmund Burke, Memoir of the life and character of Edmund Burke by James Prior.
  • Some rhyme a neebor’s name to lash;
    Some rhyme (vain thought!) for needfu’ cash;
    Some rhyme to court the countra clash,
    An’ raise a din;
    For me, an aim I never fash;
    I rhyme for fun.

    • Robert Burns, Epistle to James Smith (1786).
  • For rhyme the rudder is of verses,
    With which, like ships, they steer their courses.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part I (1663-64), Canto I, line 463.
  • Some force whole regions, in despite
    O’ geography, to change their site;
    Make former times shake hands with latter,
    And that which was before come after;
    But those that write in rhyme still make
    The one verse for the other’s sake;
    For one for sense, and one for rhyme,
    I think’s sufficient at one time.

    • Samuel Butler, Hudibras, Part II (1664), Canto I, line 23.
  • Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
    Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.

    • Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto I (1812), Stanza 3.
  • I by no means rank poetry high in the scale of intelligence—this may look like affectation—but it is my real opinion—it is the lava of the imagination, whose eruption prevents an earthquake
    • Lord Byron, letter to Annabella Milbanke (29 November 1813).
  • Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is.
    • James Branch Cabell, Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice (1919).
  • Our poetry now is the realization that we possess nothing. Anything therefore is a delight (since we do not posses it) and thus need not fear its loss.
    • John Cage, Silence: Lectures and Writings, “Lecture on Nothing” (1959).
  • Poetry, therefore, we will call Musical Thought.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero Worship (1840), 3.
  • For there is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man; also, it may be said, there is no life of a man, faithfully recorded, but is a heroic poem of its sort, rhymed or unrhymed.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Sir Walter Scott, in London and Westminster Review (1838).
  • Poetry, unlike oratory, should not aim at clarity… but be dense with meaning, ‘something to be chewed and digested’…
    • George Chapman, Preface to Ovid’s Banquet of Sense (1595)
  • A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.
    • René Char, as quoted in The French-American Review (1976) by Texas Christian University, p. 132.
  • I think that we’re beginning to remember that the first poets didn’t come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, “Ahhh.” That was the first poem.
    • Lucille Clifton, rebroadcast after her death on Bill Moyers Journal, 26 February 2010 (transcript, video).
  • …poetry = the best words in their best order.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk (12 July 1827).
  • An undevout poet is an impossibility.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Seven Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton.
  • No man was ever yet a great poet, without being at the same time a profound philosopher. For poetry is the blossom and the fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (1817) ch. XV.
  • There is a pleasure in poetic pains
    Which only poets know.

    • William Cowper, The Task Book II, The Timepiece, l. 285
      • used by William Wordsworth as the title of a poem.
  • If you examine the highest poetry in the light of common sense, you can only say that it is rubbish; and in actual fact you cannot so examine it at all, because there is something in poetry which is not in the words themselves, which is not in the images suggested by the words ‘O windy star blown sideways up the sky!’ True poetry is itself a magic spell which is a key to the ineffable.
    • Aleister Crowley Eight Lectures on Yoga.
  • I’m a poetry–skipper myself. I don’t like to boast, but I have probably skipped more poetry than any other person of my age and weight in this country — make it any other two persons. This doesn’t mean that I hate poetry. I don’t feel that strongly about it. It only means that those who wish to communicate with me by means of the written word must do so in prose.
    • Will Cuppy, How to Get From January to December (1951).
  • To see the Summer Sky
    Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie —
    True Poems flee —

    • Emily Dickinson, Poem 1472.
  • Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
    • Denis Diderot, On Dramatic Poetry (1758).
  • Doeg, though without knowing how or why,
    Made still a blundering kind of melody;
    Spurr’d boldly on, and dash’d through thick and thin,
    Through sense and nonsense, never out nor in;
    Free from all meaning whether good or bad,
    And in one word, heroically mad.

    • John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681), Part II, “Thick and thin”, line 412.
  • A poem is a naked person . . . some people say that I am a poet.
    • Bob Dylan, Liner notes, Bringing It All Back Home (1965).
  • 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 the Individual Talent (1919).
  • It is a test (a positive test, I do not assert that it is always valid negatively), that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
    • T. S. Eliot, Dante (1929).
  • Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836), Ch. 8; Emerson ascribed this to Plato but it is actually a paraphrasing by Emerson of two quotations from Plato and Aristotle.
  • Language is fossil poetry.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Poet (1844).
  • 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).
  • I am no poet, but if you think for yourselves, as I proceed, the facts will form a poem in your minds.
    • Michael Faraday, in lecture notes of 1858, quoted in The Life and Letters of Faraday (1870) by Bence Jones, Vol. 2, p. 403.
  • Poetry’s a mere drug, Sir.
    • George Farquhar, Love and a Bottle (1698).
  • 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, The Independent on Sunday (24 June 1990).
  • Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
    • Gustave Flaubert, letter to Madame Louise Colet (14 August 1853).
  • Always fatuity, vulgarity, as soon as human passion is touched. […] Just as some poetry is of the eye (form, colour) and some of the ear, so Keats is of the palate. Not only has he constant reference to its pleasures, but the general sensation after reading him is one of tasting. ‘What’s the harm?’ Well, taste for some reason or the other can’t carry one far into the world of beauty—that reason being perhaps that though you don’t want comradership there you do want the possibility of comradership, and A cannot swallow B’s mouthful by any possibility:….and this exclusiveness (to maunder on) also attaches to the physical side of sex though not the least to the spiritual.
    • E. M. Forster, Selected Letters: Letter 162, to Malcolm Darling, 1 December 1916.
  • A poem…begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.
    • Robert Frost, letter to Louis Untermeyer (1 January 1916).
  • Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
    • Robert Frost, address at Milton Academy, Massachusetts (17 May 1935).
  • The person who spends his time criticizing the play around him will never write poetry. He will write criticism.
    • Robert Frost, statement at a poetry reading at Princeton University (26 October 1937), published in Collected Poems, Prose & Plays (1995).
  • The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
    • Robert Frost, The Figure a Poem Makes (1939) Preface to Collected Poems.
  • I could define poetry this way: it is that which is lost out of both prose and verse in translation.
    • Robert Frost, Conversations on the Craft of Poetry (1959); often quoted as “Poetry is what gets lost in translation”.
  • Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.
    • Christopher Fry, Time (3 April 1950).
  • The world’s history is a divine poem, of which the history of every nation is a canto, and every man a word. Its strains have been pealing along down the centuries, and though there have been mingled the discords of warring cannon and dying men, yet to the Christian philosopher and historian — the humble listener — there has been a Divine melody running through the song which speaks of hope and halcyon days to come.
    • James A. Garfield, The Province of History (c. 1856), Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 620.
  • Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
    • Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam (1926).
  • Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It’s that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that’s what the poet does.
    • Allen Ginsberg, Ginsberg: A Biography, Barry Miles (1989) p. 520.
  • Poetry is a game of loser-take-all.
    • Jean-Luc Godard, from the film Pierrot le Fou (1965).
  • If there’s no money in poetry, neither is there poetry in money.
    • Robert Graves, speech at London School of Economics (6 December 1963).
  • A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end.
    • Robert Graves, The Paris Review, “Writers at Work: 4th series,” interview with Peter Buckman and William Fifield (1969).
  • Philosophy is antipoetic. Philosophize about mankind and you brush aside individual uniqueness, which a poet cannot do without self-damage. Unless, for a start, he has a strong personal rhythm to vary his metrics, he is nothing. Poets mistrust philosophy. They know that once the heads are counted, each owner of a head loses his personal identify and becomes a number in some government scheme: if not as a slave or serf, at least as a party to the device of majority voting, which smothers personal views.
    • Robert Graves, in “The Case for Xanthippe” in The Crane Bag (1969).
  • Abstract reason, formerly the servant of practical human reasons, has everywhere become its master, and denies poetry any excuse for existence.
    Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves.
     Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.

    • Robert Graves, in “The Case for Xanthippe” in The Crane Bag (1969).
  • Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
    • Thomas Gray, The Progress of Poesy: A Pindaric Ode (1754), III, 3.
  • Poetry is the mother-tongue of the human race.
    • Johann Georg Hamann, Sämtliche Werken, ed. Josef Nadler (Vienna: Verlag Herder, 1949-1957), vol. II, p. 197.
  • If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone.
    • Thomas Hardy, The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy ed. Michael Millgate (1984) p. 302.
  • All that is worth remembering in life, is the poetry of it.
    • William Hazlitt, Lectures on the English Poets (1818) Lecture I, “On Poetry in General”.
  • For dear to gods and men is sacred song.
    Self-taught I sing; by Heaven and Heaven alone,
    The genuine seeds of poesy are sown.

    • Homer, Odyssey bk. XXII, line 382, Pope’s translation.
  • no verses which are written by water-drinkers can please, or be long-lived
    • Horace, Book I, Epistle XIX “To Maecenas”.
  • Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out … and perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
    • A. E. Housman, The Name and Nature of Poetry (1933).
  • A poem is good if it contains a new analogy and startles the reader out of the habit of treating words as counters.
    • T. E. Hulme, Speculations (1924).
  • Sir, what is Poetry? Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is: but it is not easy to tell what it is.
    • Samuel Johnson, letter to James Macpherson, 20 June 1778. (Quotation used as epigram to Władysław Tatarkiewicz, “Dwa pojęcia poezji” (“Two Concepts of Poetry”), in Tatarkiewicz’s book, Parerga, Warsaw, Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1978, pp. 20–38.)
  • Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth, by calling imagination to the help of reason.
    • Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the English Poets (1781) “Milton”.
  • The essence of poetry is invention; such invention as, by producing something unexpected, surprises and delights.
    • Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the English Poets (1781) “Life of Waller”.
  • Still may syllables jar with time,
    Still may reason war with rhyme,
    Resting never!

    • Ben Jonson, Underwoods XXIX, “A Fit of Rhyme Against Rhyme”.
  • In a world dominated by the discourses of globalization a book of translations forces us to reflect and meditate, and it alerts us not only to differences but also connections and intersections among communities, religions and ethnicities. That there are similarities and there are difference. Both are in fact important. Context shapes the way one lives. The subject matter too could be different. But the meditative dimension, the concern with belonging, and with identity and rootedness are similar.
    • Prof. Chelva Kanaganayakam of the English Department of the University of Toronto, quoted on Sri Lanka Cottawa: “Mirrored Images – An Anthology of Sri Lankan Poetry Edited by Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha Launched in Canada”, June 4, 2013.
  • In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre. 1st. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by Singularity—it should strike the Reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a Remembrance—2nd Its touches of Beauty should never be half way thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural natural too him—shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the Luxury of twilight—but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
    • John Keats, letter to John Taylor (27th February 1818).
  • When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.
    • John F. Kennedy, remarks at Amherst College [1] (October 26, 1963)
  • Love has its priests in the poets, and one hears at times a poet’s voice which worthily extols it.
    • Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (1843)
  • 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, Trees (August 1913).
  • Poetry: play on words.
    • Yahia Lababidi, Signposts to Elsewhere (2008).
  • The imagination, which is the source of poetry, has in every country been the beginning as well as the ornament of civilization. It civilizes because it refines.
  • We deny that poetry is fiction; its merit and its power lie alike in its truth:
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, On the Ancient and Modern Influence of Poetry, The New Monthly Magazine (1832), Vol. 35, page 466
  • Poetry is the immortality of earth : where shall we look for our noblest thoughts, and our tenderest feelings, but in its eternal pages ?
    • Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Ethel Churchill (or The Two Brides) (1837), Vol. I Chapter 5
  • There’s a reason for poetry… Poetry is a very nonlinear use of language, where the meaning is more than just the sum of the parts. And science requires that it be nothing more than the sum of the parts. And just the fact that there’s stuff to explain out there that’s more than the sum of the parts means that the traditional approach, just characterizing the parts and the relations, is not going to be adequate for capturing the essence of many systems that you would like to be able to do. That’s not to say that there isn’t a way to do it in a more scientific way than poetry, but I just like the feeling that culturally there’s going to be more of something like poetry in the future of science.
    • Christopher Langton, as quoted by John Horgan, The End of Science (1996) p. 201
  • Poetry should begin with emotion in the poet, and end with the same emotion in the reader. The poem is simply the instrument of transferance
    • Philip Larkin, BBC Third Programme (13 April 1956).
  • Novels are about other people and poems are about yourself
    • Philip Larkin, Required Writing (1983).
  • As civilization advances, poetry almost necessarily declines.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, On Milton (1825).
  • A poem should not mean
    But be.

    • Archibald MacLeish, Ars Poetica (1926).
  • As for me, Poetry takes the place of love, because it is enamored of itself, and because this self-lust has a delightful dying fall in my soul.
    • Stéphane Mallarmé, letter to Henri Cazalis (14 May 1867).
  • Many a bard’s untimely death
    Lends unto his verses breath;
    Here’s a song was never sung:
    Growing old is dying young.

    • Edna St. Vincent Millay in “To a Poet Who Died Young” in Second April‎ (1921), p. 52.
  • Oh, I didn’t realize that you wrote poetry
    I didn’t realize you wrote such bloody awful poetry, Mr. Shankly

    • Johnny Marr and Morrissey, Frankly, Mr. Shankly, The Queen Is Dead. (1986)
  • My unpremeditated verse.
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), Book IX, line 24.
  • Rhime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter…the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing
    • John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667; 1674), “The Verse” (added 1668).
  • Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignore most people.
    • Adrian Mitchell, Poems (1964) Preface.
  • The bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you’d pissed off some witch, then what’s she gonna do, she’s gonna put a curse on you, and what’s gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk’s gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that—no big deal. You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skillful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it’s a particularly good bard, and he’s written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you’re dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.
    • Alan Moore in “The Craft” – interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005).
  • Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
    • Novalis, as quoted in Quote, Unquote‎ (1989) by Jonathan Williams, p. 136.
  • Poems, like dreams, have a visible subject and an invisible one. The invisible one is the one you can’t choose, the one that writes itself. Not a message that comes at the end of the poem, more like a pathological condition that deforms every word – a resonance, a manner of speaking, a nervous tic, a pressure. And this invisible subject only shows up when you’re speaking the language that you speak when no one is there to correct or applaud you. Remembering that language is the whole skill of writing well.
    • Alice Oswald, Get Writing (2004), as quoted in Modern Women Poets (2005) by Deryn Rees-Jones, p. 392
  • I do physics in order to earn my living, and I do poetry in order to keep alive.
    • Nicanor Parra, interview with The New York Times, June 27, 1968, p. 49
  • Remember, writing poetry is like making love: one will never know whether one’s own pleasure is shared.
    • Cesare Pavese, This Business of Living1937-11-06
  • The only thing worse than poetry? Abstract poetry, which exists solely to make students feel stupid and professors feel smug.
    • Laura Penny, More Money Than Brains, p. 10.
  • I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty.
    • Edgar Allan Poe, The Poetic Principle (1850).
  • Poetic Justice, with her lifted scale,
    Where, in nice balance, truth with gold she weighs,
    And solid pudding against empty praise.

    • Alexander Pope, The Dunciad Book I, line 52.
  • A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
    That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1709), Part II, line 156.
  • What woful stuff this madrigal would be,
    In some starv’d hackney sonneteer or me!
    But let a lord once own the happy lines,
    How the wit brightens! how the style refines.

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1709), Part II, line 418.
  • Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal but which the reader recognizes as his own.
    • Salvatore Quasimodo, New York Times (14 May 1960).
  • Who needs poetry? All of us do. Poetry has always been the voice of the inner self, the carrier of revelations, dreams, and visions that often defy expression in ordinary prose.
    • Jane Roberts, Dialogues of the Soul and Mortal Self in Time, p. v.
  • Lord but I dislike poetry. How can anyone remember words that aren’t put to music?
    • Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind (2007), Chapter 14
  • Science is for those who learn; poetry, for those who know.
    • Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest pt. 1, LXXI.
  • 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 Haunted Pool (1890) ch. 2.
  • Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly 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. … Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.
    • Carl Sandburg, Good Morning, America (1928).
  • A poem works or fails to work; no amount of argufying can convert an experienced reader.
    • Michael Schmidt, from ‘Getting poetry published’, in, Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook (2004).
  • And, as imagination bodies forth
    The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
    Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
    A local habitation and a name.

    • William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (c. 1595-96), Act V, scene 1, line 14.
  • I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew,
    Than one of these same metre ballet-mongers;
    I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn’d,
    Or a dry wheel grate on the axletree;
    And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
    Nothing so much as mincing poetry:
    ‘Tis like the forced gait of a shuffling nag.

    • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 Act III, Scene I.
  • O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention.

    • William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Chorus, line 1.
  • The elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of poesy.
    • William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost (c. 1595-6), Act IV, scene 2, line 126.
  • I was not born under a rhyming planet.
    • William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing Act V, Sc. II.
  • Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
    Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme.

    • William Shakespeare, Sonnet LV.
  • …poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (1821).
  • Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.
    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (1821).
  • … ζωγραφίαν ποίησιν σιωπῶσαν προσαγορεύει [sc. ὁ Σιμωνίδης], τὴν δὲ ποίησιν ζωγραφίαν λαλοῦσαν.
    • Painting is silent poetry, and poetry painting that speaks.
    • Simonides of Ceos quoted by Plutarch, De gloria Atheniensium 3.346f.
      • Variant translations:
Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.
Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting.
  • I was promised on a time
    To have reason for my rhime;
    From that time until this season
    I received nor rhime nor reason.

    • Edmund Spenser, Lines on his Promised Pension.
  • You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick…You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.
    • Dylan Thomas “Notes on the Art of Poetry” (1951).
  • A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.
    • Dylan Thomas, Quite Early One Morning (New York: New Directions, 1954) “On Poetry”, pp. 192-93.
  • My life has been the poem I would have writ,
    But I could not both live and utter it.

    • Henry David Thoreau A Week on the Concord and Marrimack Rivers (1849) My Life Has Been a Poem I Would Have Writ.
  • Good poetry seems so 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.
    • Henry David Thoreau, Journal (29 November 1841).
  • The works of the great poets have never yet been read by mankind, for only great poets can read them. They have only been read as the multitude read the stars, at most astrologically, not astronomically. Most men have learned to read to serve a paltry convenience, as they have learned to cipher in order to keep accounts and not be cheated in trade; but of reading as a noble intellectual exercise they know little or nothing; yet this only is reading, in a high sense, not that which lulls us as a luxury and suffers the nobler faculties to sleep the while, but what we have to stand on tip-toe to read and devote our most alert and wakeful hours to.
    • Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854), Chapter 3, “Reading”
  • 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).
  • All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
    • Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist (1891).
  • He lives the poetry that he cannot write. The others write the poetry that they dare not realise.
    • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) ch. 4.
  •     It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day

for lack
of what is found there.

  • William Carlos Williams in “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” in Journey to Love (1955).
  • Schiller writes in a letter [to Goethe, 17 December 1795] of a ‘poetic mood’. I think I know what he means, I think I am familiar with it myself. It is the mood of receptivity to nature and one in which one’s thoughts seem as vivid as nature itself.
    • Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value (1998), p. 75
  • I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
    • William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads (1802) Preface.
  • We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.
    • W.B. Yeats, Essays (1924) “Anima Hominis”.
  • There is in Poesy a decent pride,
    Which well becomes her when she speaks to Prose,
    Her younger sister.

    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night V, line 64.

Quotes About Poetry

Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations

  • The fatal facility of the octosyllabic verse.
    • Lord Byron, Corsair, Preface.
  • In the hexameter rises the fountain’s silvery column:
    In the pentameter aye falling in melody back.

    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Ovidian Elegiac Metre.
  • Prose—words in their best order;—poetry—the best words in their best order.
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk (12 July 1827).
  • Made poetry a mere mechanic art.
    • William Cowper, Table Talk, line 654.
  • Feel you the barren flattery of a rhyme?
    Can poets soothe you, when you pine for bread,
    By winding myrtle round your ruin’d shed?

    • George Crabbe, The Village, Book I.
  • Why then we should drop into poetry.
    • Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend, Book I, Chapter V.
  • When the brain gets as dry as an empty nut,
    When the reason stands on its squarest toes,
    When the mind (like a beard) has a “formal cut,”—
    There is a place and enough for the pains of prose;
    But whenever the May-blood stirs and glows,
    And the young year draws to the “golden prime,”
    And Sir Romeo sticks in his ear a rose,—
    Then hey! for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

    • Austin Dobson, The Ballad of Prose and Rhyme.
  • ‘Twas he that ranged the words at random flung,
    Pierced the fair pearls and them together strung.

    • Eastwick—Anvari Suhaili. Rendering of Bidpai.
  • The true poem is the poet’s mind.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, EssaysOf History.
  • For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, The Poet.
  • It does not need that a poem should be long. Every word was once a poem.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, The Poet.
  • The finest poetry was first experience.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakespeare.
  • Oh love will make a dog howl in rhyme.
    • John Fletcher, Queen of Corinth, Act IV, scene 1.
  • What is a Sonnet? ‘Tis the pearly shell
    That murmurs of the far-off, murmuring sea;
    A precious jewel carved most curiously;
    It is a little picture painted well.
    What is a Sonnet? ‘Tis the tear that fell
    From a great poet’s hidden ecstasy;
    A two-edged sword, a star, a song—ah me!
    Sometimes a heavy tolling funeral bell.

    • R. W. Gilder, The Sonnet.
  • To write a verse or two, is all the praise
    That I can raise.

    • George Herbert, The ChurchPraise.
  • A verse may finde him who a sermon flies,
    And turn delight into a sacrifice.

    • George Herbert, The Temple (1633), The Church Porch.
  • For dear to gods and men is sacred song.
    Self-taught I sing; by Heaven and Heaven alone,
    The genuine seeds of poesy are sown.

    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XXII, line 382, Pope’s translation.
  • Versibus exponi tragicis res comica non vult.
    • A comic matter cannot be expressed in tragic verse.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 89.
  • Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto.
    • It is not enough that poetry is agreeable, it should also be interesting.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 99.
  • Versus inopes rerum, nugæque canoræ.
    • Verses devoid of substance, melodious trifles.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 322.
  • Ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis
    Offendar maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
    Aut humana parum cavit natura.

    • Where there are many beauties in a poem I shall not cavil at a few faults proceeding either from negligence or from the imperfection of our nature.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 351.
  • Nonumque prematur in annum.
    • Let your poem be kept nine years.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 388.
  • Wheresoe’er I turn my view,
    All is strange, yet nothing new:
    Endless labor all along,
    Endless labor to be wrong:
    Phrase that Time has flung away;
    Uncouth words in disarray,
    Trick’d in antique ruff and bonnet,
    Ode, and elegy, and sonnet.

    • Samuel Johnson, Parody of the style of Thomas Warton. See Croker’s note to Boswell’s Life of Johnson (18 September 1777), also in Mrs. Piozzi’s Anecdotes.
  • The essence of poetry is invention; such invention as, by producing something unexpected, surprises and delights.
    • Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the English PoetsLife of Waller.
  • Still may syllables jar with time,
    Still may reason war with rhyme,
    * Resting never!

    • Ben Jonson, UnderwoodsFit of Rhyme Against Rhyme.
  • These are the gloomy comparisons of a disturbed imagination; the melancholy madness of poetry, without the inspiration.
    • Junius, Letter No, VII. To Sir W. Draper.
  • Facit indignatio versum.
    • Indignation leads to the making of poetry. Quoted “Facit indignatio versus”—i.e., verses.
    • Juvenal, Satires, I. 79.
  • The poetry of earth is never dead;
    * * * * *
    The poetry of earth is ceasing never.

    • John Keats, On the Grasshopper and Cricket.
  • A drainless shower
    Of light is poesy: ’tis the supreme of power;
    ‘Tis might half slumbering on its own right arm.

    • John Keats, Sleep and Poetry, line 237.
  • There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
    And—every—single—one—of—them—is—right.

    • Rudyard Kipling, In the Neolithic Age.
  • The time for Pen and Sword was when
    “My ladye fayre,” for pity,
    Could tend her wounded knight, and then
    Grow tender at his ditty.
    Some ladies now make pretty songs,
    And some make pretty nurses:
    Some men are good for righting wrongs,
    And some for writing verses.

    • Frederick Locker-Lampson, The Jester’s Plea.
  • It [“The Ancient Mariner”] is marvellous in its mastery over that delightfully fortuitous inconsequence that is the adamantine logic of dreamland.
    • James Russell Lowell, Among My BooksColeridge.
  • For, of all compositions, he thought that the sonnet
    Best repaid all the toil you expended upon it.

    • James Russell Lowell, Fable for Critics (1848), line 368.
  • Never did Poesy appear
    So full of heaven to me, as when
    I saw how it would pierce through pride and fear
    To the lives of coarsest men.

    • James Russell Lowell, Incident in a Railroad Car, Stanza 18.
  • These pearls of thought in Persian gulfs were bred,
    Each softly lucent as a rounded moon;
    The diver Omar plucked them from their bed,
    FitzGerald strung them on an English thread.

    • James Russell Lowell, In a Copy of Omar Khayyam.
  • Musæo contigens cuncta lepore.
    • Gently touching with the charm of poetry.
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, IV. 9.
  • The merit of poetry, in its wildest forms, still consists in its truth—truth conveyed to the understanding, not directly by the words, but circuitously by means of imaginative associations, which serve as its conductors.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, EssaysOn the Athenian Orators.
  • We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.
    • Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, On Milton (1825).
  • Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
    Married to immortal verse,
    Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
    In notes, with many a winding bout
    Of linkèd sweetness long drawn out.

    • John Milton, L’Allegro, line 136.
  • Yea, marry, now it is somewhat, for now it is rhyme; before it was neither rhyme nor reason.
    • Sir Thomas More. Advising an author to put his Manuscript into rhyme. “Rhyme nor reason.” Said by Peele—Edward I. In As You Like It, Act III, scene 2. Comedy of Errors, Act II, scene 2. Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, scene 5. Farce du Vendeur des Lieures. (16th Cen.) L’avocat Patelin (Quoted by Tyndale, 1530.) The Mouse Trap. (1606). See Beloe Anecdotes of Literature, II. 127. Also in Manuscript in Cambridge University Library, England. 2. 5. Folio 9b. (Before 1500).
  • Lives there the man with soul so dead as to disown the wish to merit the people’s applause, and having uttered words worthy to be kept in cedar oil to latest times, to leave behind him rhymes that dread neither herrings nor frankincense.
    • Persius, Satires, I. 41.
  • Confined to common life thy numbers flow,
    And neither soar too high nor sink too low;
    There strength and ease in graceful union meet,
    Though polished, subtle, and though poignant, sweet;
    Yet powerful to abash the front of crime
    And crimson error’s cheek with sportive rhyme.

    • Persius, Satires, V. 14. Gifford’s translation.
  • The varying verse, the full resounding line,
    The long majestic march, and energy divine.

    • Alexander Pope, Horace, Book II, Epistle I, line 267.
  • Curst be the verse, how well soe’er it flow,
    That tends to make one worthy man my foe,
    Give virtue scandal, innocence a fear,
    Or from the soft-eyed virgin steal a tear!

    • Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 283.
  • I consider poetry very subordinate to moral and political science.
    • Percy Bysshe Shelley, letter to Thomas Love Peacock, from Naples (26 January 1819).
  • A poem round and perfect as a star.
    • Alexander Smith, A Life Drama, scene 2.
  • I was promised on a time,
    To have reason for my rhyme;
    From that time unto this season,
    I received nor rhyme nor reason.

    • Edmund Spenser, Lines on His Promised Pension. See Fuller’s Worthies, by Nuttall, Volume II, p. 379.
  • Jewels five-words-long,
    That on the stretch’d forefinger of all Time
    Sparkle for ever.

    • Alfred Tennyson, The Princess (1847), Part II, line 355.
  • Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
    Quale sopor fessis in gramine.

    • Thy verses are as pleasing to me, O divine poet, as sleep is to the wearied on the soft turf.
    • Virgil, Eclogæ, V. 45.
  • One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.
    • Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (“A Philosophical Dictionary“) (1764), Poets.
  • Old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good.
    • Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1653-1655), Part I, Chapter IV.
  • And so no force, however great,
    Can strain a cord, however fine,
    Into a horizontal line
    That shall be absolutely straight.

    • William Whewell, given as an accidental instance of metre and poetry.
  • Give lettered pomp to teeth of Time,
    So “Bonnie Doon” but tarry:
    Blot out the epic’s stately rhyme,
    But spare his Highland Mary!

    • John Greenleaf Whittier, Burns, last stanza.
  • The vision and the faculty divine;
    Yet wanting the accomplishment of verse.

    • William Wordsworth, The Excursion (1814), Book I.
  • Wisdom married to immortal verse.
    • William Wordsworth, The Excursion (1814), Book VII

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