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POETS
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[ Also see Authors Burns, Robert Fancy Holmes, Oliver Wendell Homer Imagination Milton, John Poetry Sandburg, Carl Shakespeare Songs Visions Wordsworth, William Writers ]

All men are poets at heart.
      - Ralph Waldo Emerson, Literary Ethics

His virtues formed the magic of his song.
      - Epitaph, Inscription of the Tomb of Cowper
         (l. 10)

'Tis a question whether adversity or prosperity makes the most poets.
      - George Farquhar

Who live on fancy, and can feed on air.
      - John Gay

"Give me a theme," the little poet cried,
  "And I will do my part,"
    "'Tis not a theme you need," the world replied;
      "You need a heart."
      - Richard Watson Gilder, Wanted, a Theme

Whoever would understand the poet
  Must go into the poet's country.
    [Ger., Wer den Dichter will verstehen
      Muss in Dichters Lande gehen.]
      - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
        Noten auf West-O--Divans

Modern poets mix too much water with their ink.
  [Ger., Neuere Poeten thun viel Wasser in die Tinte.]
      - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
        Spruche in Prosa (III),
        quoting Sterne "Koran", 2, 142

I fancy the character of a poet is in every country the same,--fond of enjoying the present, careless of the future; his conversation that of a man of sense, his actions those of a fool.
      - Oliver Goldsmith

Thou best-humour'd man with the worst-humour'd muse.
      - Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (postscript)

A poet is the translator of the silent language of nature to the world.
      - Rufus Wilmot Griswold

Lo! there he lies, our Patriarch Poet, dead!
  The solemn angel of eternal peace
    Has waved a wand of mystery o'er his head,
      Touched his strong heart, and bade his pulses cease.
      - Paul Hamilton Hayne, To Bryant, Dead

He plays their dreams on a mouth organ. He tells them their secrets on a banjo.
      - Ben Hecht

Poets are never young, in one sense. Their delicate ear hears the far-off whispers of eternity, which coarser souls must travel towards for scores of years before their dull sense is touched by them. A moment's insight is sometimes worth a life's experience.
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

We call those poets who are first to mark
  Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn,--
    Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark,
      While others only note that day is gone.
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.,
        Memorial Verses--Shakespeare

In his own verse the poet still we find,
  In his own page his memory lives enshrined,
    As in their amber sweets the smothered bees,--
      As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze,
        Lies self-embalmed amidst the mouldering trees.
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.,
        Songs of Many Seasons--Bryant's Seventieth Birthday
         (sts. 17 and 18)

Where go the poet's lines?--
  Answer, ye evening tapers!
    Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls,
      Speak from your folded papers!
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., The Poet's Lot
         (st. 3)

Neither men, nor gods, nor booksellers' shelves permit ordinary poets to exist.
  [Lat., Mediocribus esse poetis
    Non homines, non di, non concessere columnae.]
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus),
        Ars Poetica (372)

If you rank me with the lyric poets, my exalted head shall strike the stars.
  [Lat., Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseris,
    Sublimi feriam sidera vertice.]
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Carmina
         (I, 1, 35)

The irritable tribe of poets.
  [Lat., Genus irritabile vatum.]
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus),
        Epistles (II, 2, 102)

Poets, the first instructors of mankind,
  Brought all things to the proper native use.
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus),
        Of the Art of Poetry (l. 449),
        (Wentworth Dillon's translation)

The scattered remnants of the poet.
  [Lat., Disjecti membra poetae.]
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires
         (I, 4, 62)

The man is either mad or his is making verses.
  [Lat., Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit.]
      - Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Satires
         (II, 7, 117)

To a poet nothing can be useless.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")

Was ever poet so trusted before!
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature"),
        Boswell's Life of Johnson

If men will impartially, and not asquint, look toward the offices and function of a poet, they will easily conclude to themselves the impossibility of any man's being a good poet without first being a good man.
      - Ben Jonson


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