500+ Sourced quotes
I always wish, in reading my favourite poets, to know what first suggested my favourite poems. Few things would be more interesting than to know under what circumstances they were composed, — how much of individual sentiment there was in each, or how, on some incident seemingly even opposed, they had contrived to ingraft their own associations. What a history of the heart would such annals reveal ! Every poem is in itself an impulse.
If you're angry, you don't have to write a poem dealing with the cause of your anger. But it needs to be an angry poem. So go ahead... write one. I know you're at least a little bit angry with me. And when you're done with your poem, decipher it as if you'd just found it printed in a textbook and know absolutely nothing about its author. The results can be amazing...and scary. But it's always cheaper than a therapist.
Just as entropy is a measure of disorganization, the information carried by a set of messages is a measure of organization. In fact, it is possible to interpret the information carried by a message as essentially the negative of its entropy, and the negative logarithm of its probability. That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Cliches, for example, are less illuminating than great poems.
Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently. If we can read it silently, it is not a valid poem: a poem demands pronunciation. Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.
He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen.
Only now have I understood that there was a secret relationship between what I have called my expulsion from the present and the writing of poetry. Poetry is in love with the instant and seeks to relive it in the poem, thus separating it from sequential time and turning it into a fixed present. But at that time I wrote without wondering why I was doing it. I was searching for the gateway to the present: I wanted to belong to my time and to my century. A little later this obsession became a fixed idea: I wanted to be a modern poet. My search for modernity had begun.
A lot of poets published their own work then; unlike novels, poetry was short, and therefore cheap to do. We had to print each poem separately, and then disassemble it, as there were not enough a's for the whole book; the cover was done with a lino-block. We printed 250 copies, and sold them through bookstores, for 50 cents each. They now go in the rare book trade for eighteen hundred dollars a pop. Wish I'd kept some.
A poem is a place where the conditions of beyondness and withinness are made palpable, where to imagine is to feel what it is to be. It allows us to have the life we are denied because we are too busy living. Even more paradoxically, poetry permits us to live in ourselves as if we were just out of reach of ourselves.
I think Miss Moore was right to cut The Steeple-Jack — the poem seems plainer and clearer in its shortened state — but she has cut too much... The reader may feel like saying, Let her do as she pleases with the poem; it's hers, isn't it? No; it's much too good a poem for that, it long ago became everybody's, and we can protest just as we could if Donatello cut off David's left leg.
When modernist poetry, or what not so long ago passed for modernist poetry, can reach the stage where the following piece by Mr. Ezra Pound is seriously offered as a poem, there is some justification for the plain reader and orthodox critic who shrinks from anything that may be labelled 'modernist' either in terms of condemnation or approbation.... Better he thinks, that ten authentic poets should be left for posterity to discover than one charlatan should be allowed to steal into the Temple of Fame.
If, in the middle of World War II, a general could be writing a poem, then maybe I was not so irrelevant after all. Maybe the general was doing more for victory by writing a poem than he would be by commanding an army. At least, he might be doing less harm. By applying the same logic to my own condition, I decided that I might be relevant in what I called a negative way. I have clung to this concept ever since — negative relevance. In moments of vain-glory I even entertain the possibility that if my concept were more widely accepted, the world might be a better place to live in. There are a lot of people who would make better citizens if they were content to be just negatively relevant.
My "Poems" were written without a purpose, other than the expression of faiths and ideals strongly realized and emotions keenly felt. They were written for the joy of writing, and for the satisfaction of an irresistible impulse. It is my belief that it is not the business of art either to teach or to preach.
Every poem that works is like a metaphor of the whole mind writing, the solution of all the oppositions and imbalances going on at that time. When the mind finds the balance of all those things and projects it, that's a poem. It's a kind of hologram of the mental condition at that moment, which then immediately changes and moves on to some other sort of balance and rearrangement. What counts is that it be a symbol of that momentary wholeness. That's how I see it.