quotations about poetry
Poetry is an orphan of silence.
CHARLES SIMIC, attributed, Stealing Glimpses: Of Poetry, Poets, and Things in Between
There is the view that poetry should improve your life. I think people confuse it with the Salvation Army.
JOHN ASHBERY, International Herald Tribune, October 2, 1989
Poetry will wither on the vine if you don't regularly come back to the simplest fundamentals of the poem: rhythm, rhyme, simple subjects--love, death, war.
JAMES FENTON, The New Yorker, July 25, 1994
Everybody can write poetry, just like everybody knows how to make love.
GAO XINGJIAN, The Other Shore
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
PABLO NERUDA, "Tonight I Can Write"
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, letter to T. W. Higginson, c. 1870
Poetry, indeed, has always been one of humanity's sharpest tools for puncturing the shrink-wrap of silence and oppression.
MARIA POPOVA, "Poetry as Protest and Sanctuary", brainpickings, April 18, 2017
Poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentally self-delighting inventiveness, its joy in being a process of language as well as a representation of things in the world.
SEAMUS HEANEY, The Redress of Poetry
I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
SEAMUS HEANEY, This Week, April 15, 2004
Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
ROBERT FROST, attributed, Robert Frost: The Trial by Existence
Nobody, I think, ought to read poetry, or look at pictures or statues, who cannot find a great deal more in them than the poet or artist has actually expressed.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The Marble Faun
There is no true poet in whom fancy is not close akin to faith.
JOHN C. BAILEY, The Claims of French Poetry
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, March 22, 1958
One of the current great problems in the world is fundamentalism of every kind -- political, spiritual -- and poetry is an antidote to fundamentalism. Poetry is about the clarities that you find when you don't simplify. Poetry is about complexity, nuance, subtlety. Poems also create larger fields of possibility. The imagination is limitless, so even when a person is confronted with an unchangeable outer circumstance, one thing poems give you is the sense that there's always, still, a changeability, a malleability, of inner circumstance. That's the beginning of freedom.
JANE HIRSHFIELD, "How can poems transform the world? A chat with poet Jane Hirshfield.", Washington Post, May 13, 2015
Whenever I read a poem that moves me, I know I'm not alone in the world. I feel a connection to the person who wrote it, knowing that he or she has gone through something similar to what I've experienced, or felt something like what I have felt. And their poem gives me hope and courage, because I know that they survived, that their life force was strong enough to turn experience into words and shape it into meaning and then bring it toward me to share.
GREGORY ORR, All Things Considered, February 20, 2006
There has never been a great poet who wasn't also a great reader of poetry.
EDWARD HIRSCH, interview, 2007
The difference between genuine poetry and the poetry of Dryden, Pope, and all their school, is briefly this: their poetry is conceived and composed in their wits, genuine poetry is conceived and composed in the soul.
MATTHEW ARNOLD, Essays in Criticism, Second Series
Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.
MAXWELL BODENHEIM, attributed, An Introduction to Poetry and Criticism
The white light of truth, in traversing the many sided transparent soul of the poet, is refracted into iris-hued poetry.
HERBERT SPENCER, The Philosophy of Style
A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep.
SALMAN RUSHDIE, London Independent, February 18, 1989