Nearly all men and women are poetical, to some extent, but very few can be called poets. There are great poets, small poets, and men and women who make verses. But all are not poets, nor even good versifiers. Poetasters are plentiful, but real poets are rare. Education can not make a poet, though it may polish and develop one.
Orson F. Whitney
I just said let's get some poets on tv. And when they said that sounded unlikely, I made it worse. I said, no man, I want to put a bunch of black poets on stage, too. Some Latino poets who barely speak English and Asian poets who can't believe how discriminated against they are. It was luck nad being in the right place. I wasn't saying nothing somebody else wasn't saying but they wouldn't hear it from them.
After all, poets shouldn't be their own interpreters and shouldn't carefully dissect their poems into everyday prose; that would mean the end of being poets. Poets send their creations into the world, it is up to the reader, the aesthetician, and the critic to determine what they wanted to say with their creations.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
One of the surest tests of the superiority or inferiority of a poet is the way in which a poet borrows. 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. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique utterly different than that from which it is torn the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time or alien in language or diverse in interest.
T. S. Eliot
Plato said that poets should be excluded from the ideal republic because they are such liars. I am a poet, and I affirm that this is true. About no subject are poets tempted to lie so much as about their own lives; I know one of them who has floated at least five versions of his autobiography, none of them true. I of course - being also a novelist - am a much more truthful person than that. But since poets lie, how can you believe me?
Plato utterly condemns the poets for publishing trivial, false and indeed wicked stories about the gods, such as that they fight with each other, or are overcome by emotions like grief, anger, mirth. Reluctantly, he will not allow Homer in his Republic, and he is very angry with the tragic poets for spreading unworthy ideas of the Deity. It may well be that there were inferior tragic poets who deserved Plato's strictures, but so far as concerns the tragic poets whom we know, Plato's attack is absurd. It is the attack of a severely intellectual philosopher who was also more of a poet than most poets have contrived to be; one who invented some of the profoundest and most beautiful of Greek myths. 'There is a long-standing quarrel', says Plato, 'between philosophy and poetry.' So there was, on the part of the philosophers, and most of all in Plato's own soul.
The poets are wrong of course [... ] But then poets are almost always wrong about facts. That's because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth: which is why the truth they speak is so true that even those who hate poets by simple and natural instinct are exalted and terrified by it.
I say, 'Get me some poets as managers.' Poets are our original systems thinkers. They contemplate the world in which we live and feel obligated to interpret, and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world runs. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst that I believe we will draw tomorrow's new business leaders." --Sidney Harman, CEO Multimillionaire of a stereo components company
Daniel H. Pink
I say, 'Get me some poets as managers.' Poets are our original systems thinkers. They contemplate the world in which we live and feel obligated to interpret, and give expression to it in a way that makes the reader understand how that world runs. Poets, those unheralded systems thinkers, are our true digital thinkers. It is from their midst that I believe we will draw tomorrow's new business leaders." -Sidney Harman, CEO Multimillionaire of a stereo components company
Daniel H. Pink
Insofar as craft and poetics in a poem have a politics, I wanted to avoid that brittle enjambed-prose-sentence-lyric verse, where you have standard sentences snapped off and scattered decoratively across the page (which I might go out on a limb and say was characteristic of some leftist poets, Beat poets, street poets and populist poets of the 70s and 80s-all of whom I basically view as comrades, I should probably say, to this day) and on the other hand I also wanted my poetics to operate differently than those more right-wing academics-in practice-even if in their poems or statements they proclaim public leftist views or ideas-they remain academic poets, operating in elite university-supported circles, institutionalized and reading before institutional audiences, awarding grants and awards to each other, sitting on each other's grants panels, awards and tenure committees, as Philip Levine admitted in an interview in Don't Ask, 'giving prizes to friends.
The Chinese poet George Wu... recorded on his comlog: "Poets are the mad midwives to reality. They see not what is, nor what can be, but what must become." Later, on his last disk to his lover the week before he died, Wu said: "Words are the only bullets in truth's bandolier. And poets are the snipers.
Poets are accepted in Canada as practically nowhere else in the West because of their place in an officially supported and popularly endorsed Canadian culture. Yet, they are still bitter and argumentative, as poets elsewhere are, because they have no audience as such, only a sanctioned role in the cultural scheme of things.
Not having finished high school and having been fairly utilitarian in the way I went about college, I didn't have a deep liberal arts background. So we'd go to lunch and people would talk about their favorite seventeenth-century poets, and I'd be thinking, 'Could I even name five poets? From any century?'
Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Poets seem to write more easily about love than prose writers. For a start, they own that flexible 'I'... . Then again, poets seem able to turn bad love "" selfish, shitty love "" into good love poetry. Prose writers lack this power of admirable, dishonest transformation. We can only turn bad love into prose about bad love. So we are envious (and slightly distrustful) when poets talk to us of love.
Without poets, without artists... everything would fall apart into chaos. There would be no more seasons, no more civilizations, no more thought, no more humanity, no more life even; and impotent darkness would reign forever. Poets and artists together determine the features of their age, and the future meekly conforms to their edit.
Oh, there are no living poets, Miss Van Damn. We're not entirely sure there ever were. They've found some shreds of sonnets in England and, embedded in a chalk wall of a cave in France, some yet undetermined thing which might be the legendary inward eye. But all evidence, such as it is, suggests that, if there ever were poets, they were all burned into extinction during the interglacial period of despair.
My biggest poetic influences are probably 20th-century British and Irish poets. So I suppose I'm always listening for the music I associate with that poetry, the telling images, the brevity. I want to hear it in my own work as well as in the poetry I read. However, I think I'm generally more forgiving of other poets than myself.
Now I would say at any given moment in American life, there are probably 45 poets in airplanes vectoring across the country heading towards...I don't know if anyone's reading it, but poets are still flying around the country going from lectern to lectern.That circuitry has become very well-established.
As for what I have done as a poet, I take no pride in whatever. Excellent poets have lived at the same time with me, poets more excellent lived before me, and others will come after me. But that in my country I am the only person who knows the truth in the difficult science of colors-of that, I say, I am not a little proud, and here have a consciousness of superiority to many.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Most poets, most good poets even, no longer have the heart to write about what is most terrible in the world of the present: the bombs waiting beside the rockets, the hundreds of millions staring into the temporary shelter of their television sets, the decline of the West that seems less a decline than the fall preceding an explosion.
Exact science and its practical movements are no checks on the greatest poet, but always his encouragement and support ... The sailor and traveller, the anatomist, chemist, astronomer, geologist, phrenologist, spiritualist, mathematician, historian and lexicographer are not poets, but they are the lawgivers of poets and their construction underlies the structure of every perfect poem.
I was not really aware of the dystopian genre before I read 'The Handmaid's Tale.' Many poets as well, like John Donne and Emily Dickinson, would be the influences; I specialized in Emily Dickinson at university. Both of those poets have really interesting ways of looking at life and death.
i see poets riding the red winds unchecked by the borders of time, wandering with light feet over the land mines and trip wires, barbed and barbarian, unfettered through the barriers that curtail the flows of life, poets pelting the halting barriers which strangle everyone everywhere.
Peter Standish Evans
In general, I would think that at present prose writers are much in advance of the poets. In the old days, I read more poetry than prose, but now it is in prose where you find things being put together well, where there is great ambition, and equal talent. Poets have gotten so careless, it is a disgrace. You can't pick up a page. All the words slide off.
William H. Gass
The anthology meets with two different kinds of reactions in living poets. They will either write toward the anthology or away from it. Anti-anthology poets often overreach themselves, inflicting protective distortions on their work - as parents in old Central Europe often deliberately maimed their sons to save them from compulsory military service.
I believe in being a poet in all moments of life. Being a poet means being human. I know some poets whose daily behavior has nothing to do with their poetry. In other words, they are only poets when they write poetry. Then it is finished and they turn into greedy, indulgent, oppressive, shortsighted, miserable, and envious people. Well, I cannot believe their poems
I do believe that one's writing life needs to be kept separate from Po-Biz. Personally, I deal with this by not attending too many poetry readings, primarily reading dead poets or poems in translation, reading Poets & Writers only once for grant/contest information before I quickly dispose of it, and not reading Poetry Daily. Ever.
Revolution is a bitter thing, mixed with filth and blood, not as lovely or perfect as the poets think. It is eminently down to earth, involving many humble, tiresome tasks, not so romantic as the poets think... . So it is easy for all who have romantic dreams about revolution to become disillusioned on closer acquaintance, when a revolution is actually carried out.
Oh, Black known and unknown poets, how often have your auctioned pains sustained us? Who will compute the lonely nights made less lonely by your songs, or by the empty pots made less tragic by your tales? If we were a people much given to revealing secrets, we might raise monuments and sacrifice to the memories of our poets, but slavery cured us of that weakness.
Poets are always making waves. I mean, you know, in an ideal situation, the ideal republic can't tolerate poets because - it isn't that they mutter and criticize; it is that the poet does not accept the situation called the 'perfect' condition of man - in other words, perfect in the materialistic sense.
Many poets are not poets for the same reason that many religious men are not saints: they never succeed in being themselves. They never get around to being the particular poet or the particular monk they are intended to be by God. They never become the man or the artist who is called for by all the circumstances of their individual lives. They waste their years in vain efforts to be some other poet, some other saint...They wear out their minds and bodies in a hopeless endeavor to have somebody else's experiences or write somebody else's poems.
THE METAPHYSICAL POETS Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, lady, were no crime (Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress) While theatre was the most public literary form of the period, poetry tended to be more personal, more private. Indeed, it was often published for only a limited circle of readers. This was true of Shakespeare's sonnets, as we have seen, and even more so for the Metaphysical poets, whose works were published mostly after their deaths. John Donne and George Herbert are the most significant of these poets. The term 'Metaphysical' was used to describe their work by the eighteenth-century critic, Samuel Johnson. He intended the adjective to be pejorative. He attacked the poets' lack of feeling, their learning, and the surprising range of images and comparisons they used. Donne and Herbert were certainly very innovative poets, but the term 'Metaphysical' is only a label, which is now used to describe the modern impact of their writing. After three centuries of neglect and disdain, the Metaphysical poets have come to be very highly regarded and have been influential in recent British poetry and criticism. They used contemporary scientific discoveries and theories, the topical debates on humanism, faith, and eternity, colloquial speech-based rhythms, and innovative verse forms, to examine the relationship between the individual, his God, and the universe. Their 'conceits', metaphors and images, paradoxes and intellectual complexity make the poems a constant challenge to the reader.
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
When I say God it is poetry and not theology. Nothing that any theologian has written about God has helped me much, but everything the poets have written about flowers and birds and skies and seas and saviors of the race, and God - whoever He may be - has at one time or another reached my soul!...The theologians gather dust upon the shelves of my library but the poets are stained with my fingers and blotted by my tears.
John Haynes Holmes
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.
Poets, if they're genuine, must keep repeating "I don't know." Each poem marks an effort to answer this statement, but as soon as the final period hits the page, the poet begins to hesitate, starts to realize that this particular answer was pure makeshift that's absolutely inadequate to boot. So the poets keep on trying, and sooner or later the consecutive results of their self-dissatisfaction are clipped together with a giant paperclip by literary historians and called their oeuvre.
I examined the poets, and I look on them as people whose talent overawes both themselves and others, people who present themselves as wise men and are taken as such, when they are nothing of the sort. From poets, I moved to artists. No one was more ignorant about the arts than I; no one was more convinced that artists possessed really beautiful secrets. However, I noticed that their condition was no better than that of the poets and that both of them have the same misconceptions. Because the most skillful among them excel in their specialty, they look upon themselves as the wisest of men. In my eyes, this presumption completely tarnished their knowledge. As a result, putting myself in the place of the oracle and asking myself what I would prefer to be - what I was or what they were, to know what they have learned or to know that I know nothing - I replied to myself and to the god: I wish to remain who I am. We do not know - neither the sophists, nor the orators, nor the artists, nor I- what the True, the Good, and the Beautiful are. But there is this difference between us: although these people know nothing, they all believe they know something; whereas, I, if I know nothing, at least have no doubts about it. As a result, all this superiority in wisdom which the oracle has attributed to me reduces itself to the single point that I am strongly convinced that I am ignorant of what I do not know.
For centuries poets, some poets, have tried to give a voice to the animals, and readers, some readers, have felt empathy and sorrow. If animals did have voices, and they could speak with the tongues of angels-at the very least with the tongues of angels-they would be unable to save themselves from us. What good would language do? Their mysterious otherness has not saved them, nor have their beautiful songs and coats and skins and shells and eyes.
Of course, a psychologist would find it more direct to study the inspired poet. He would make concrete studies of inspiration in individual geniuses. But for all that, would he experience the phenomena of inspiration? His human documentation gathered from inspired poets could hardly be related, except from the exterior, in an ideal of objective observations. Comparison of inspired poets would soon make us lose sight of inspiration.
Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don't give a damn whether they eat or not. Forced feeding leads to excessive thinness (effete). Nobody should experience anything they don't need to, if they don't need poetry bully for them. I like the movies too. And after all, only Whitman and Crane and Williams, of the American poets, are better than the movies.
When an individual appreciates that he alone is responsible for the content and coherence of his person, an influx like eros becomes a concrete personal threat. So in the lyric poets, love is something that assaults or invades the body of the lover to wrest control of it from him, a personal struggle of will and physique between the god and his victim. The poets describe this struggle from within a consciousness - perhaps new in the world - of the body as a unity of limbs, senses and self, amazed at its own vulnerability.
Literary men are being employed to praise a big business man personally, as men used to praise a king. They not only find political reasons for the commercial schemes that they have done for some time past they also find moral defences for the commercial schemers. ... I do resent the whole age of patronage being revived under such absurd patrons; and all poets becoming court poets, under kings that have taken no oath.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
The Romantic journey was usually a solitary one. Although the Romantic poets were closely connected with one another, and some collaborated in their work, they each had a strong individual vision. Romantic poets could not continue their quests for long or sustain their vision into later life. The power of the imagination and of inspiration did not last. Whereas earlier poets had patrons who financed their writing, the tradition of patronage was not extensive in the Romantic period and poets often lacked financial and other support. Keats, Shelley and Byron all died in solitary exile from England at a young age, their work left incomplete, non-conformists to the end. This coincides with the characteristic Romantic images of the solitary heroic individual, the spiritual outcast 'alone, alone, all, all alone' like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner and John Clare's 'I'; like Shelley's Alastor, Keats's Endymion, or Byron's Manfred, who reached beyond the normal social codes and normal human limits so that 'his aspirations/Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth'. Wordsworth, who lived to be an old man, wrote poems throughout his life in which his poetic vision is stimulated by a single figure or object set against a natural background. Even his projected final masterpiece was entitled The Recluse. The solitary journey of the Romantic poet was taken up by many Victorian and twentieth-century poets, becoming almost an emblem of the individual's search for identity in an ever more confused and confusing world.