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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 ]

Poets are far rarer birds than kings.
      - Ben Jonson

For a good poet's made, as well as born,
  And such wast thou! Look how the father's face
    Lives in his issue; even so the race
      Of Shakespeare's mind and manner brightly shine
        In his well-turned and true-filed lines;
          In each of which he seems to shake a lance,
            As brandished at the eyes of ignorance.
      - Ben Jonson,
        Lines to the Memory of Shakespeare

O 'tis a very sin
  For one so weak to venture his poor verse
    In such a place as this.
      - John Keats (1), Endymion (bk. III, l. 965)

Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
  And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
      Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
        Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
          That deep-brow'd Homer rules as his demesne,
            Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
              Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold;
                Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
                  When a new planet swims into his ken;
                    Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
                      He stared at the Pacific,--and all his men
                        Look'd at each other with a wild surmise,--
                          Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
      - John Keats (1),
        On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer,
        (Cortez confused with Balboa)

I was singing as a bird mourns.
  [Fr., Je chantais comme l'oiseau gemit.]
      - Alphonse de Lamartine, Le Poete Mourant

To the poetic mind all things are poetical.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

For next to being a great poet is the power of understanding one.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion
         (bk. II, ch. III)

All that is best in the great poets of all countries is not what is national in them, but what is universal.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh
         (ch. XX)

For voices pursue him by day,
  And haunt him by night,--
    And he listens, and needs must obey,
      When the Angel says: "Write!"
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
        L'Envoi--The Poet and His Songs (st. 7)

Like the river, swift and clear,
  Flows his song through many a heart.
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
        Oliver Basselin (st. 11)

O ye dead Poets, who are living still
  Immortal in your verse, though life be fled,
    And ye, O living Poets, who are dead
      Though ye are living, if neglect can kill,
        Tell me if in the darkest hours of ill,
          With drops of anguish falling fast and red
            From the sharp crown of thorns upon your head,
              Ye were not glad your errand to fulfill?
      - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Poets

A poet must need be before his own age, to be even with posterity.
      - James Russell Lowell

The clear, sweet singer with the crown of snow
  Not whiter than the thoughts that housed below!
      - James Russell Lowell,
        Epistle to George William Curtis
         (l. 43, postscript)

A terrible thing to be pestered with poets!
  But, alas, she is dumb, and the proverb holds good,
    She never will cry till she's out of the wood!
      - James Russell Lowell, Fable for Critics
         (l. 73)

Sithe of our language he was the lodesterre.
      - John Lydgate, The Falls of Princes,
        referring to Chaucer

For his chaste Muse employed her heaven-taught lyre
  None but the noblest passions to inspire,
    Not one immoral, one corrupted thought,
      One line, which dying he could wish to blot.
      - Lord George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton ("The Good Lord Lyttelton"),
        Prologue to Thomson's Coriolanus

You admire, Vacerra, only the poets of old and praise only those who are dead. Pardon me, I beseech you, Vacerra, if I think death too high a price to pay for your praise.
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (bk. VIII, ep. 49)

He does not write those verses no one reads.
  [Lat., Non scribit, cujus carmina nemo legit.]
      - Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis),
        Epigrams (III, 9, 2)

A poet more than thirty years old is simply an overgrown child.
      - Henry Louis Mencken

Anyone may be an honorable man, and yet write verse badly.
      - Moliere (pseudonym of Jean Baptiste Poquelin)

It is quite cruel that a poet cannot wander through his regions of enchantment without having a critic, forever, like the old man of the sea, upon his back.
      - Marianne Craig Moore

The poet's labors are a work of joy, and require peace of mind.
      - Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)

Good-bye to the lies of the poets.
  [Lat., Valeant mendacia vatum.]
      - Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Fasti
         (VI, 253)

Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
      - Plato (originally Aristocles},
        The Republic (bk. II, sec. V)

Nevertheless it is allowed to poets to lie. (Poetical license.)
  [Lat., Tamen poetis mentiri licet.]
      - Pliny the Younger (Caius Caecilius Secundus),
        Epistles (bk. VI, 21)


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