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It's a pity, a gentleman in refined retirement composing poetry:
He models his work on the classic verse of China.
And his poems are elegant, full of fine phrases.
But if you don't write of things deep in your own heart,
What's the use of churning out so many words?
Variant translation: With gaudy words their lines are formed And further adorned by novel and curious phrases. Yet if they fail to express what is in their own minds What is the use, no matter How many poems they compose!
"Zen Poetics of Ryokan" in Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry (Summer 2006)


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Craft is something you learn by studying models.When a student asks, what is a good book about traditional iambic verse, The Collected Poems of Ben Jonson. What is an excellent book about free verse? The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams. What is a good book about short line in ballad metre? The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.

Robert Pinsky

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

Several dozen journals now exist that print only verse. They don't publish literary reviews, just page after page of freshly minted poems. The heart sinks to see so many poems crammed so tightly together, like downcast immigrants in steerage. One can easily miss a radiant poem amid the many lackluster ones. It takes tremendous effort to read these small magazines with openness and attention. Few people bother, generally not even the magazines' contributors. The indifference to poetry in the mass media has created a monster of the opposite kind — journals that love poetry not wisely but too well.

Dana Gioia

I suppose that I am a very serious poet – except for satirical verse, which I have also been compelled to write, though much of it may be inferior to my more serious poems – perhaps because I am not playful enough by nature, and even my satirical or polemical verse is not entertaining.

Michael Hamburger

Richard Chase declares, "No great poet has written so much bad verse as Emily Dickinson." He blames the Victorian cult of little women for the fact that "two thirds of her work" is seriously flawed: "Her coy and oddly childish poems of nature and female friendship are products of a time when one of the careers open to women was perpetual childhood." Dickinson's sentimental feminine poems remain neglected by embarrassed scholars. I would maintain, however, that her poetry is a closed system of sexual reference and that the mawkish poems are designed to dovetail with those of violence and suffering.

Emily Dickinson
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