Poets
person who writes poetry
Poets are people who write or speak poetry for pleasure or as an occupation. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that their work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary greatly in different cultures and time periods.
Poets are all who love,—who feel great truths,
And tell them. ~ Philip James Bailey
Poets and anarchists are always the first to go. Where. To the frontline. Wherever it is. ~ Giannina Braschi
I am no poet, but if you think for yourselves, as I proceed, the facts will form a poem in your minds. ~ Michael Faraday
The child alone a poet is: Spring and Fairyland are his. Truth and Reason show but dim, and all's poetry with him. ~ Robert Graves

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A
Poets don't drive. Never trust a poet who can drive. Never trust a poet at the wheel. If he can drive, distrust the poems.
Martin Amis, The Information
B
Poets are all who love, — who feel great truths,
And tell them.
Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Another and a Better World.
A poet not in love is out at sea;
He must have a lay-figure.
Philip James Bailey, Festus (1813), scene Home.
Always be a poet, even in prose.
Charles Baudelaire, "My Heart Laid Bare" Intimate Journals, (1864).
Poets and anarchists are always the first to go. Where. To the frontline. Wherever it is.
Giannina Braschi, Yo-Yo Boing! (1998).
"There's nothing great
Nor small," has said a poet of our day,
Whose voice will ring beyond the curfew of eve
And not be thrown out by the matin's bell.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh (1856), Book VII. Probably in reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Epigram to History: "There is no great and no small".
God's prophets of the Beautiful,
These Poets were.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Vision of Poets (1844), Stanza 98.
Ovid's a rake, as half his verses show him,
Anacreon's morals are a still worse sample,
Catullus scarcely has a decent poem,
I don't think Sappho's Ode a good example,
Although Longinus tells us there is no hymn
Where the sublime soars forth on wings more ample;
But Virgil's songs are pure, except that horrid one
Beginning with "Formosum Pastor Corydon."
Lord Byron, Don Juan (1818-24), Canto I, Stanza 42.
For a man to become a poet (witness Petrarch and Dante), he must be in love, or miserable.
Lord Byron, Journal of the Conversations of Lord Byron by Thomas Medwin (1823).
A great poet belongs to no country ; his works are public property, and his Memoirs the inheritance of the public.
Lord Byron, Conversations of Lord Byron with Thomas Medwin (1832).
C
A poet should leave traces of his passage, not proofs. Traces alone engender dreams.
The worst fate of a poet is to be admired without being understood.
Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel á l'ordre (1926).
A true poet does not bother to be poetical. Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.
Jean Cocteau, Le Rappel á l'ordre (1926).
To a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one.
Colette, Paris From My Window (1944).
There is a pleasure in poetic pains,
Which only poets know.
William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book II, line 285. Same in Wordsworth, Miscellaneous Sonnets. Knight's ed, VII. 160.
D
For that fine madness still he did retain
Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.
Michael Drayton, To Henry Reynolds, of Poets and Poesy (1627).
A poem is a naked person . . . some people say that I am a poet.
Bob Dylan, Liner notes, Bringing It All Back Home (1965).
You don't have to write anything down to be a poet. Some work in gas stations. Some shine shoes. I don't really call myself one because I don't like the word. Me? I'm a trapeze artist.
A paraphrased statement of Bob Dylan, used by the Arthur Rimbaud characterization of Dylan in I'm Not There.
E
There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. … To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836), chapter 1.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot, The Sacred Wood (1920) "Philip Massinger".
F
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.
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).
G
The child alone a poet is:
Spring and Fairyland are his.
Truth and Reason show but dim,
And all's poetry with him.
Robert Graves, in "Babylon" in Fairies and Fusiliers (1917).
To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.
Robert Graves, in a reply to a questionnaire in “The Cost of Letters” in Horizon (September 1946).
Anthropologists are a connecting link between poets and scientists; though their field-work among primitive peoples has often made them forget the language of science.
Robert Graves, in "Mammon" an address at the London School of Economics (6 December 1963); published in Mammon and the Black Goddess (1965).
Even nowadays an archaic sense of love-innocence recurs, however briefly, among most young men and women. Some few of these, who become poets, remain in love for the rest of their lives, watching the world with a detachment unknown to lawyers, politicians, financiers, and all other ministers of that blind and irresponsible successor to matriarchy and patriarchy — the mechanarchy.
Robert Graves, in the Introduction to Poems about Love (1969).
H
Heilige Gefäße sind die Dichter,
Worin des Lebens Wein, der Geist
Der Helden sich aufbewahrt.
Poets are holy vessels in which the wine of life, the spirit of heroes is preserved.
Friedrich Hölderlin, „Five Epigrams“ M. Hamburger, trans. Selected Verse (1961), p. 11.
The prose writer drags meaning along with a rope, the poet makes it stand out and hit you.
T. E. Hulme, Speculations (1924).
Poets themselves, tho' liars by profession, always endeavour to give an air of truth to their fictions…
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), section X.
K
A poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence because he has no Identity-he is continually informing and filling some other body.
John Keats, letter to Richard Woodhouse (27 October 1818).
A poet doesn't always have to be good. You take Ezra Pound; he was a poet in the classic sense, he was a fine poet. Nothing wrong with his poetry except he was a Nazi. He had a different view than we did. You have a picture there of a poet, but a different type of poet.
Jack Kirby, "Jack Kirby interview", Train of Thought #5, (1971).
L
There cannot be a greater error than to suppose that the poet does not feel what he writes. What an extraordinary, I might say, impossible view, is this to take of an art more connected with emotion than any of its sister sciences. What — the depths of the heart are to be sounded, its mysteries unveiled, and its beatings numbered by those whose own heart is made by this strange doctrine — a mere machine wound up by the clock-work of rhythm ! No ; poetry is even more a passion than a power, and nothing is so strongly impressed on composition as the character of the writer. I should almost define poetry to be the necessity of feeling strongly in the first instance, and the as strong necessity of confiding in the second.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon, The New Monthly Magazine (1835), 'On the Character of Mrs. Hemans’s Writings'
People ought to be grateful : I have done a great deal for the poets ; is there not one among them to do something for me ? I entreat them to recollect that I have read them, which is a great deal ; I have bought them, which is still more ; and I have reduced their theory to practice, which is most of all. They owe me a recompense, and I have a plan in my head. I want one of them to come and commit suicide in my garden, and leave a paper behind requesting to be interred in that very spot. He might assign any reason his imagination suggested, and I would take care that religious attention should be paid to his last wish ; indeed, it is for that I desire his death.
Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1834 (1833), 'Grasmere'
For next to being a great poet is the power of understanding one.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion (1839), Book II, Chapter III.
M
Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.
Thomas Babington Macaulay, On Milton (1825).
O
All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.
Wilfred Owen, Draft for a preface to a collection of war poems he hoped to publish in 1919.
P
σοφὸς ὁ πολλὰ εἰδὼς φυᾷ.
At any rate, at his [the God of Love] touch every man becomes a poet "though formerly unvisited by the Muse".
Plato, The Symposium section 196.
While pensive poets painful vigils keep,
Sleepless themselves to give their readers sleep.
Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1813), Book I, line 93.
Dulness! whose good old cause I yet defend,
With whom my muse began, with whom shall end.
Alexander Pope, The Dunciad (1813), Book I, line 165.
Poets like painters, thus unskill'd to trace
The naked nature and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover every part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism (1709), line 293.
Q
And as to the poets, those who go astray follow them.
Qur'an, Surah 26:224.
R
A poet's work is 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, The Satanic Verses (1988).
The first task of any man who would be a poet is to know himself completely; he seeks his soul, inspects it, tests it, learns it... The Poet makes himself into a seer by a long, involved and logical derangement of all the senses... The poet is really a thief of fire.
Arthur Rimbaud : LETTER TO PAUL DEMENY, 1871. Charleville, 15 mai 1871.
S
Each man carries within him the soul of a poet who died young.
Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve, Portraits littéraires (1862).
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.
For ne'er
Was flattery lost on Poet's ear;
A simple race! they waste their toil
For the vain tribute of a smile.
Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) canto IV, stanza 35.
Call it not vain: — they do not err,
Who say that, when the Poet dies,
Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,
And celebrates his obsequies.
Walter Scott, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) canto V, stanza 1.
When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room.—Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.
William Shakespeare, As You Like It (c.1599-1600), Act III, scene 3, line 15.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs.
William Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost (c. 1595-6), Act IV, scene 3, line 346.
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 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 12.
Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry (1821).
Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may make the too-much-loved earth more lovely; her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.
Philip Sidney, An Apology of Poetry, or The Defence of Poesy (1581).
Strange as these words may sound I often play with the idea that when all the social theories collapse and wars and revolutions leave humanity in utter gloom, the poet — whom Plato banned from his Republic — may rise up to save us all.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, in his Nobel Lecture (8 December 1978).
As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the upper Paleolithic: the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.
Gary Snyder, "Statement for the Paterson Society" (1961), as quoted in David Kherdian, Six Poets of the San Francisco Renaissance: Portraits and Checklists (1967), p. 52. Snyder repeated the first part of this quote (up to "… common work of the tribe.") in the introduction to the revised edition of Gary Snyder, Myths & Texts (1978), p. viii.
Dan Chaucer, well of English undefyled,
On Fame's eternall beadroll worthie to be fyled.
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book IV, Canto II, Stanza 32.
A poet looks at the world somewhat as a man looks at a woman.
Wallace Stevens Opus Posthumous (1955) "Adagia".
Unjustly poets we asperse:
Truth shines the brighter clad in verse,
And all the fictions they pursue
Do but insinuate what is true.
Jonathan Swift, To Stella (1720).
It is worse than useless to deplore the irremediable; yet no man, probably, has failed to mourn the fate of mighty poets, whose dawning gave the promise of a glorious day, but who passed from earth while yet the light that shone in them was crescent.
John Addington Symonds, Percy Bysshe Shelley(1878), Ch. 1. Birth and Childhood.
T
I do but sing because I must,
And pipe but as the linnets sing.
Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849), XXI. 6.
Any form of orthodoxy is just not part of a poet's province … A poet must be able to claim … freedom to follow the vision of poetry, the imaginative vision of poetry … And in any case, poetry is religion, religion is poetry. The message of the New Testament is poetry. Christ was a poet, the New Testament is metaphor, the Resurrection is a metaphor; and I feel perfectly within my rights in approaching my whole vocation as priest and preacher as one who is to present poetry; and when I preach poetry I am preaching Christianity, and when one discusses Christianity one is discussing poetry in its imaginative aspects. … My work as a poet has to deal with the presentation of imaginative truth.
R. S. Thomas, in "R. S. Thomas : Priest and Poet" (BBC TV, 2 April 1972).
A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard becomes
Who void of envy, guile and lust of gain,
On virtue still and nature's pleasing themes
Poured forth his unpremeditated strain.
James Thomson, Castle of Indolence (1748), Canto I, Stanza 68. (Last line said to be "writ by a friend of the author.").
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).
The poet is in command of his fantasy, while it is exactly the mark of the neurotic that he is possessed by his fantasy.
Lionel Trilling, The Liberal Imagination (1950).
V
Our Poets make us laugh at Tragœdy,
And with their Comoedies they make us cry.
George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham, The Rehearsal (1671).
W
Poets lose half the praise they should have got,
Could it be known what they discreetly blot.
Edmund Waller, Upon the Earl of Roscommon's Translation of Horace, Ars Poetica ll. 41.
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, Lecture, "The Themes of Robert Frost" (1947).
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, One Man's Meat (1942) "Poetry".
To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too.
Walt Whitman, Notes Left Over (1892) "Ventures, on an Old Theme".
Many questions haven't been answered as yet. Our poets may be wrong; but what can any of us do with his talent but try to develop his vision, so that through frequent failures we may learn better what we have missed in the past.
William Carlos Williams, in an interview with Stanley Koehler (April 1962), in The Paris Review : Writers at Work, 3rd series, Viking Penguin, p. 29.
That mighty orb of song,
The divine Milton.
William Wordsworth, The Excursion (1814), Book I, line 252.
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
William Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence, st. 7 (1807).
Y
A poet's autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote.
Yevgeny Yentushenko, The Sole Survivor (1982).
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 605-09.
Heureux qui, dans ses vers, sait d'une voix légère
Passer du grave au doux, du plaisant au sévère.
Ah, poet-dreamer, within those walls
What triumphs shall be yours!
For all are happy and rich and great
In that City of By-and-by.
A. B. Bragdon, Two Landscapes.
O brave poets, keep back nothing;
Nor mix falsehood with the whole!
Look up Godward! speak the truth in
Worthy song from earnest soul!
Hold, in high poetic duty,
Truest Truth the fairest Beauty.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Dead Pan, Stanza 39.
One fine day,
Says Mister Mucklewraith to me, says he,
"So! you've a poet in your house," and smiled.
"A poet? God forbid," I cried; and then
It all came out: how Andrew slyly sent
Verse to the paper; how they printed it
In Poet's Corner.
Robert Buchanan, Poet Andrew, line 161.
Poets alone are sure of immortality; they are the truest diviners of nature.
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Caxtoniana, Essay XXVII.
And poets by their sufferings grow,—
As if there were no more to do,
To make a poet excellent,
But only want and discontent.
Samuel Butler, Miscellaneous Thoughts.
A Poet without Love were a physical and metaphysical impossibility.
Thomas Carlyle, Essays, Burns.
Most joyful let the Poet be;
It is through him that all men see.
William E. Channing, The Poet of the Old and New Times.
He koude songes make and wel endite.
Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, Prologue, line 95.
Who all in raptures their own works rehearse,

And drawl out measur'd prose, which they call verse.
Charles Churchill, Independence, line 295.
Adhuc neminem cognovi poetam, qui sibi non optimus videretur.
Poets by Death are conquer'd but the wit
Of poets triumphs over it.
Abraham Cowley, On the Praise of Poetry, Ode I, line 13.
And spare the poet for his subject's sake.
William Cowper, Charity, last line.
Ages elapsed ere Homer's lamp appeared,
And ages ere the Mantuan Swan was heard;
To carry nature lengths unknown before,
To give a Milton birth, asked ages more.
William Cowper, Table Talk.
Greece, sound thy Homer's, Rome thy Virgil's name,
But England's Milton equals both in fame.
William Cowper, To John Milton.
They best can judge a poet's worth,
Who oft themselves have known
The pangs of a poetic birth
By labours of their own.
William Cowper, To Dr. Darwin, Stanza 2.
Sure there are poets which did never dream
Upon Parnassus, nor did taste the stream
Of Helicon; we therefore may suppose
Those made not poets, but the poets those.
Sir John Denham, Cooper's Hill.
I can no more believe old Homer blind,
Than those who say the sun hath never shined;
The age wherein he lived was dark, but he
Could not want sight who taught the world to see.
Sir John Denham, Progress of Learning, line 61.
The poet must be alike polished by an intercourse with the world as with the studies of taste; one to whom labour is negligence, refinement a science, and art a nature.
Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius, Vers de Société.
For that fine madness still he did retain,
Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.
Michael Drayton, To Henry Reynolds. Of Poets and Poesy, line 109.
Happy who in his verse can gently steer
From grave to light, from pleasant to severe.
John Dryden, The Art of Poetry, Canto I, line 75.
Three poets in three distant ages born,
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn.
The first in loftiness of thought surpass'd;
The next, in majesty; in both, the last.
The force of nature could no further go;
To make a third, she join'd the former two.
John Dryden, Under Mr. Milton's Picture, Homer, Virgil, Milton.
Poets should be law-givers; that is, the boldest lyric inspiration should not chide and insult, but should announce and lead the civil code, and the day's work.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays, Of Prudence.
All men are poets at heart.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Literary Ethics.
"Give me a theme," the little poet cried,
"And I will do my part,"
"'Tis not a theme you need," the world replied;
"You need a heart."
Richard Watson Gilder, Wanted, a Theme.
Wer den Dichter will verstehen
Muss in Dichters Lande gehen.
'Neuere Poeten thun viel Wasser in die Tinte.'
Thou best-humour'd man with the worst-humour'd muse.
Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (1774), Postscript.
Singing and rejoicing,
As aye since time began,
The dying earth's last poet
Shall be the earth's last man.
Anastasius Grün, The Last Poet.
His virtues formed the magic of his song.
Inscription on the Tomb of William Cowper, line 10. See Hayley's Life of Cowper, Volume IV, p. 189.
Lo! there he lies, our Patriarch Poet, dead!
The solemn angel of eternal peace
Has waved a wand of mystery o'er his head,
Touched his strong heart, and bade his pulses cease.
Paul H. Hayne, To Bryant, Dead.
We call those poets who are first to mark
Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn,—
Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark,
While others only note that day is gone.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Memorial Verses, Shakespeare.
Where go the poet's lines?—
Answer, ye evening tapers!
Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls,
Speak from your folded papers!
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet's Lot, Stanza 3.
In his own verse the poet still we find,
In his own page his memory lives enshrined,
As in their amber sweets the smothered bees,—
As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze,
Lies self-embalmed amidst the mouldering trees.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Songs of Many Seasons, Bryant's Seventieth Birthday, Stanza 17 and 18. For same idea see Ant, Fly, Spider.
Mediocribus esse poetis
Non homines, non di, non concessere columnæ.
Poets, the first instructors of mankind,
Brought all things to their proper native use.
Horace, Of the Art of Poetry, line 449. Wentworth Dillon's translation.
Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseris,
Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.
Genus irritabile vatum.
Disjecti membra poetæ.
Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit.
Was ever poet so trusted before!
Samuel Johnson, Boswell's Life of Johnson (1774).
For a good poet's made, as well as born.
Ben Jonson, To the Memory of Shakespeare. Translation of Solus aut rex aut poeta non quotannis nascitur. Florus—De Qualitate Vitæ. Fragment, VIII. Poeta nascitur non fit. The poet is born not made. Earliest use in Cælius Rhodiginus—Lectiones Antiquæ. I, VII, Chapter IV, p. 225. (Ed. 1525).
O 'tis a very sin
For one so weak to venture his poor verse
In such a place as this.
John Keats, Endymion (1818), Book III, line 965.
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne,
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific,—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise,—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
John Keats. On first looking into Chapman's Homer. Cortez confused with Balboa.
Je chantais comme l'oiseau gémit.
All that is best in the great poets of all countries is not what is national in them, but what is universal.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale (1849), Chapter XX.
For voices pursue him by day,
And haunt him by night,—
And he listens, and needs must obey,
When the Angel says: "Write!"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, L'Envoi, The Poet and His Songs, Stanza 7.
Like the river, swift and clear,
Flows his song through many a heart.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Basselin, Stanza 11.
O ye dead Poets, who are living still
Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
Though ye are living, if neglect can kill,
Tell me if in the darkest hours of ill,
With drops of anguish falling fast and red
From the sharp crown of thorns upon your head,
Ye were not glad your errand to fulfill?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poets.
The clear, sweet singer with the crown of snow
Not whiter than the thoughts that housed below!
James Russell Lowell, Epistle to George William Curtis, line 43. Postscript.
A terrible thing to be pestered with poets!
But, alas, she is dumb, and the proverb holds good,
She never will cry till she's out of the wood!
James Russell Lowell, Fable for Critics (1848), line 73.
Sithe of our language he was the lodesterre.
John Lydgate, The Falls of Princes, referring to Chaucer.
For his chaste Muse employed her heaven-taught lyre
None but the noblest passions to inspire,
Not one immoral, one corrupted thought,
One line, which dying he could wish to blot.
George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton, Prologue to Thomson's Coriolanus, 17.
Non scribit, cujus carmina nemo legit.
You admire, Vacerra, only the poets of old and praise only those who are dead. Pardon me, I beseech you, Vacerra, if I think death too high a price to pay for your praise.
Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book VIII, Epigram 49.
Poets are sultans, if they had their will:
For every author would his brother kill.
Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery, Prologues (according to Johnson).
Valeant mendacia vatum.
Sappho is a great poet because she is a lesbian, which gives her erotic access to the Muse. Sappho and the homosexual-tending Emily Dickinson stand alone above women poets, because poetry's mystical energies are ruled by a hierach requiring the sexual subordination of her petitioners. Women have achieved more as novelists than as poets because the social novel operates outside the ancient marriage of myth and eroticism.
Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae (1990), p. 672
Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
Plato, The Republic, Book II, Section V.
Tamen poetis mentiri licet.
Vain was the chief's, the sage's pride!
They had no poet, and they died.
Alexander Pope, Odes of Horace, Book IV. Ode 9.
Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy to catch me, just at dinner-time.
Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 13.
The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown,
Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown,
Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a year.
Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 179.
And he whose fustian's so sublimely bad,
It is not poetry, but prose run mad.
Alexander Pope, Prologue to Satires, line 185.
For pointed satire I would Buckhurst choose,
The best good man with the worst-natured muse.
Earl of Rochester. An allusion to Horace—Satire X, Book I.
Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They're always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.
J. D. Salinger in "Teddy" (1953).
Græcia Mæonidam, jactet sibi Roma Maronem
Anglia Miltonum jactat utrique parem.
Most wretched men
Are cradled into poetry by wrong;
They learn in suffering what they teach in song.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Julian and Maddalo, line 556.
I learnt life from the poets.
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Corinne (1807), Book XVIII, Chapter V.
With no companion but the constant Muse,
Who sought me when I needed her—ah, when
Did I not need her, solitary else?
Richard Henry Stoddard, Proem, line 87.
The Poet in his Art
Must intimate the whole, and say the smallest part.
W. W. Story, The Unexpressed.
Then, rising with Aurora's light,
The Muse invoked, sit down to write;
Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
Enlarge, diminish, interline.
Jonathan Swift, On Poetry.
Villon, our sad bad glad mad brother's name.
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Ballad of François Villon.
To have read the greatest works of any great poet, to have beheld or heard the greatest works of any great painter or musician, is a possession added to the best things of life.
Algernon Charles Swinburne, Essays and Studies, Victor Hugo, L'Année Terrible.
The Poet's leaves are gathered one by one,
In the slow process of the doubtful years.
Bayard Taylor, Poet's Journal, Third Evening.
The poet in a golden clime was born,
With golden stars above;
Dower'd with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn,
The love of love.
Alfred Tennyson, The Poet.
For now the Poet cannot die,
Nor leave his music as of old,
But round him ere he scarce be cold
Begins the scandal and the cry.
Alfred Tennyson, To ——, after Reading a Life and Letters, Stanza 4.
Poets lose half the praise they should have got,
Could it be known what they discreetly blot.
Edmund Waller, Miscellanies; upon the Earl of Roscommon's Translation of Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), line 41.
God, eldest of Poets.
William Watson, England, my England.
He saw wan Woman toil with famished eyes;
He saw her bound, and strove to sing her free.
He saw her fall'n; and wrote "The Bridge of Sighs";
And on it crossed to immortality.
William Watson, Hood.
Threadbare his songs seem now, to lettered ken:
They were worn threadbare next the hearts of men.
William Watson, Longfellow.
A dreamer of the common dreams,
A fisher in familiar streams,
He chased the transitory gleams
That all pursue;
But on his lips the eternal themes
Again were new.
William Watson, The Tomb of Burns.
It was Homer who inspired the poet.
Francis Wayland, The Iliad and the Bible.
In Spring the Poet is glad,
And in Summer the Poet is gay;
But in Autumn the Poet is sad,
And has something sad to say.
Byron Forceythe Willson, Autumn Song.
And, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew
Soul-animating strains,—alas! too few.
William Wordsworth, Miscellaneous Sonnets, Part II, Scorn not the Sonnet.
Blessings be with them, and eternal praise,
Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares,—
The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs
Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!
William Wordsworth, Personal Talk.
I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of him who walked in glory and in joy,
Following his plough, along the mountain side.
William Wordsworth, Resolution and Independence, Stanza 7.
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Last edited on 30 August 2020, at 09:54
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