How to Write Poetry: Principia poetica for practitioners of the art

Today dear friends I will sing beautifully and make you happy.

— Sappho

The objects the imitator represents are actions.

— Aristotle

Poetry should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance.

— Keats

A big book is a big bore.

— Callimachus

Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is still the best: "memorable speech."

— W. H. Auden

Don't pay any attention to book prizes! Never. To none. Not

even the Nobel. They are a snare. — Vincent Miller

Literature is language charged with meaning.

— Ezra Pound

A man can learn more about poetry by really knowing and

examining a few of the best poems than by meandering about among

a great many.

— Ezra Pound

The poem which is absolutely original is absolutely bad

— T. S. Eliot

Miles Davis (after a gig): Man, why do you play so long?

John Coltrane: I had to play that long, to get it all in.

Les grands littérateurs n’ont jamais fait qu’une seule œuvre.

— Proust

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.

— T. S. Eliot

True wit is Nature to advantage dress'd,

What oft was thought, but ne'er so well express'd.

— Pope

Silence can be complex too,

but you do not get far

with silence.

— William Carlos Williams

Experience has taught me, when I am shaving of a morning, to

keep watch over my thoughts, because if a line of poetry strays

into my memory, my skin bristles so that the razor ceases to


— A. E. Housman

For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

— T. S. Eliot

No data without experiment.

— Sophocles, tr. Ezra Pound

Say what you will in two

Words and get through.

Long, frilly

Palaver is silly.

— Marie-Francoise-Catherine de Beauveau, tr. Ezra Pound

Interviewer: Doesn't it embarrass you to see Bobby trying to

learn how to play slide on stage? Jerry Garcia: Um, yeah.

But the point is, it doesn't embarrass him.

Take this, this Psalm, from me, burst from my hand in a day ...

— Allen Ginsberg

Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the World.

— Shelley

It is difficult

to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there.

— William Carlos Williams

… that great poem, which all poets, like the co-operating thoughts of one great mind, have built up since the beginning of the world.

— Shelly

For years on years I have struggled with ink and hammer, O my

tortured heart, to make you an embroidery of fire and gold, an

orangetree hyancinth, a blossoming quince to console you ...

— Nikos Gatsos

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