20 Quotes From Your Favorite Poets

    In honor of National Poetry Month, poets on poetry.

    This story was first published on The Reading Room.

    This month we celebrate everything poetry: the writers, the words, and the tedium of craft. But beyond a celebration of novelty and diversity, National Poetry Month is it is also a holiday for admiration. For many of us who feel simply inept when it comes to poetry, April is a month of fawning and awe for the masterful works that poets create. National Poetry Month is not only a celebration, but a tribute to poets past and present, and a month to feel inspired by the works of others.

    Whether you like sestinas or sonnets, epigrams or epitaphs, or just the sound of pretty words that drip off your tongue, here are a few quotes from poets to help you kick off the celebration.


    TS Eliot
    Photo: T.S. Eliot. Courtesy of Hulton Archive / Getty Images.

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

    “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

    “Poetry is truth in its Sunday Clothes” –Joseph Roux

    “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

    quotes from poets
    Photo: Emily Dickinson. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    “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

    “We all write poems; it is simply that poets are the ones who write in words.” –John Fowles

    “Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.” –Audre Lorde

    “The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.” –Jean Cocteau

    quotes from poets
    Photo: John Keats. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    “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

    “To read a poem is to hear it with our eyes; to hear it is to see it with our ears.” –Octavio Paz

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

    “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” –Paul Valery

    quotes from poets
    Photo: James Joye. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    “Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality.” –James Joyce

    “Poetry is an orphan of silence. The words never quite equal the experience behind them.” –Charles Simic

    “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

    “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 shape, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name; such tricks hath strong imagination.” –William Shakespeare

    quotes from poets
    Photo: Robert Frost. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.” –Robert Frost

    “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” –Rita Dove



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