In The Miracle of Language Richard Lederer devotes two chapters to Poetry (three chapters if you count his chapter on The Legacy of T. S. Eliot). Sprinkled within these chapters are more than a few quotes about poetry. I have selected fifteen of my favorites to share with you here.
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I taste a liquor never brewed–
From Tankards scooped in Pearl–
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!Inebriate of Air–am I–
And Debauchee of Dew–
Reeling–thro endless summer days–
From inns of Molten Blue.
~ Emily Dickinson
Language is the greatest achievement of culture; poetry is the greatest achievement of language.
~ Vladimir Alexandrov
The magic of literary art, especially poetry, consist in suggesting with words what words cannot possibly say.
~ Martin Angoff
The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
~ Jean Cocteau
Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.
~ Christopher Fry
Poetry is truth dwelling in beauty.
Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.
~ Samuel Johnson
Poetry is fact given over to imagery.
~ Rod McKuen
Poetry is the synthesis of hiacynths and biscuits.
~ Carl Sandburg
If I read a book, and it makes my 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. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?
~ Emily Dickinson
When power leads man to arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.
~ John F. Kennedy
To write poetry, I must soak myself with the gasoline of words and then torch myself so that I can burn bright and see what’s going on around me. Writing poetry, that act of language and fire, makes me feel purpose in a universe that often feels like a severe joke.
~ Michael Bettencourt
At certain periods of history it is only poetry that is capable of dealing with reality by condensing it into something graspable, something that otherwise wouldn’t be retained by the mind.
~ Joseph Brodsky
There is not money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either.
~ Robert Graves
Poetry is the power of defining the indefinable in terms of the unforgettable.
~ Louis Untermeyer
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And here are a few quotes I noted elsewhere:
A poet is an unhappy creature whose heart is tortured by deepest suffering but whose lips are so formed that when his sighs and cries stream out over them, their sound beomes like the sound of beautiful music . . . . And men flock about the poet saying, “Sing for us soon again; that is to say, may new sufferings torture your soul, and may your lips continue to be formed as before.
~ Soren Kierkegaard, quote by Madeleine L’Engle, in A Circle of Quiet (NY: Harper, 1972), page 53:
I love the way words in poetry play off one another like shadows across the floor.
~ Jamie Langston Turner, in A Garden To Keep