Good poetry seems too 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 (1817–62) American Philosopher
One merit of poetry few persons will deny; it says more, and in fewer words, than prose.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
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 the case of poetry, it’s the exact opposite!
—Paul Dirac (1902–84) English Theoretical Physicist
The scientist has marched in and taken the place of the poet. But one day somebody will find the solution to the problems of the world and remember, it will be a poet, not a scientist.
—Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) American Architect
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 (George Gordon Byron) (1788–1824) English Romantic Poet
We must believe that “emotion recollected in tranquility” is an inexact formula. For it is neither emotion, nor recollection, nor without distortion of meaning, tranquility. It is a concentration, and a new thing resulting from the concentration of a very great number of experiences which to the practical and active person would not seem to be experiences at all; it is a concentration which does not happen consciously or of deliberation. These experiences are not “recollected” and they finally unite in an atmosphere which is “tranquil” only in that it is a passive attending upon the event.
—T. S. Eliot (1888–1965) American-born British Poet, Dramatist, Literary Critic
The poet gives us his essence, but prose takes the mold of the body and mind.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it tick… You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps… so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.
—Dylan Thomas (1914–53) Welsh Poet, Author
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 (1564–1616) British Playwright
The fear of poetry is an indication that we are cut off from our own reality
—Muriel Rukeyser (1913–80) American Poet, Writer
Poets are never young in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel toward for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does.
—Allen Ginsberg (1926–97) American Poet, Activist
The poet speaks to all men of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.
—Edith Sitwell (1887–1964) British Poet, Literary Critic
The most natural beauty in the world is honesty and moral truth; for all beauty is truth. True features make the beauty of a face; and true proportions the beauty of architecture; as true measures that of harmony and music. In poetry, which is all fable, truth still is the perfection.
—Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (1621–83) British Statesman
A person born with an instinct for poverty.
—Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) American Writer, Publisher, Artist, Philosopher
If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
—Emily Dickinson (1830–86) American Poet
Poetry is most just to its divine origin, when it administers the comforts and breathes the thoughts of religion.
—William Wordsworth (1770–1850) English Poet
A good poet’s made as well as born.
—Ben Jonson (1572–1637) English Dramatist, Poet, Actor
Who among us has not, in moments of ambition, dreamt of the miracle of a form of poetic prose, musical but without rhythm and rhyme, both supple and staccato enough to adapt itself to the lyrical movements of our souls, the undulating movements of our reveries, and the convulsive movements of our consciences? This obsessive ideal springs above all from frequent contact with enormous cities, from the junction of their innumerable connections.
—Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) French Poet, Art Critic, Essayist, Translator
Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
—Leonard Cohen (1934–2016) Canadian Singer, Songwriter, Poet, Novelist
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 its subject.
—John Keats (1795–1821) English Poet
Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself. He who has a contempt for poetry, cannot have much respect for himself, or for anything else.
—William Hazlitt (1778–1830) English Essayist
The poetry of the earth is never dead.
—John Keats (1795–1821) English Poet
You don’t have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.
—John Ciardi (1916–86) American Poet, Teacher, Etymologist, Translator
No poems can please for long or live that are written by water drinkers.
—Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65–8 BCE) Roman Poet
I don’t know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion.
—Zona Gale (1874–1938) American Novelist, Story Writer, Dramatist
Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement… says heaven and earth in one word… speaks of himself and his predicament as though for the first time. It has the virtue of being able to say twice as much as prose in half the time, and the drawback, if you do not give it your full attention, of seeming to say half as much in twice the time.
—Christopher Fry (1907–2005) English Poet, Playwright
Perhaps there is a degree of perception at which what is real and what is imagines are one: a state of clairvoyant observation, accessible or possibly accessible to the poet or, say, the acutest poet.
—Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) American Poet
Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.
—Plato (428 BCE–347 BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Mathematician, Educator
I have written some poetry that I don’t understand myself.
—Carl Sandburg (1878–1967) American Biographer, Novelist, Socialist