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Marianne Moore

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What I write could only be called poetry because there is no other category to put it.
Interview with Donald Hall November 1960 .Paris Review

Marianne Moore

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He would have died of loneliness and other things if the divine Omnipotence had not called him whenever It had the chance and invited him to become one with the radiant glory of heaven and earth. He tried whenever the opportunity occurred to obey this call and allow his soul to become one with a higher world beyond this world. He did not compose poetry openly now—his first experience at that had taught him a lesson; he resolved not to compose poetry openly until he was grown up and living among good and high-minded men, whom he imagined must exist elsewhere. But that did not stop him composing poetry; he composed just for himself now. Sometimes he scratched out a whole verse on the ice. He committed to memory every scrap of poetry he heard, and absorbed everything to do with knowledge, and was determined to write it all down in books later on—you see, he had the idea that there were too few books in the world, and that somewhere in the world there were people waiting impatiently, hungry for more books to be written.

Halldor Laxness

In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity — it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance — Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him — shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight — but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it — and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.

John Keats

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My life's purpose is to write poetry — but behind the poetry must be the vision of a fresh revelation for men.


I’m a failed poet. Maybe every novelist wants to write poetry ?rst, ?nds he can’t, and then tries the short story, which is the most demanding form after poetry. And, failing at that, only then does he take up novel writing.

William Faulkner

Writing poetry, then, is an unsocial way of manufacturing a thoroughly social product. Because he must shield his poetry in its creation, the poet, more than other writers, will write without recognition. And because his product is not in great demand, he is likely to look on honors and distinctions with the feigned indifference of the wallflower. Yet of course he is pleased when recognition comes; for what better proof is there that for some people poetry is still a useful and necessary thing — like a shoe.

Richard Wilbur
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