45 Quotes about Poetry for National Poetry Day

Witty and inspiring quotations about poetry in honour of National Poetry Day

As it’s National Poetry Day here in the UK (held in early October every year, usually on the first or second Thursday in the month), we’ve gathered together some of our favourite quotations (or quotes, depending on your preference) about poetry and poets, from the poetry of the everyday to the big philosophical questions which poetry presents us with. Where we’ve included a link on the author’s name, you’ll find more information about them – interesting facts, more quotations, or biographical material. We hope you enjoy the quotations.

There is no money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either. – Robert Graves

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. – Edgar Allan Poe

There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away, / Nor any Coursers like a Page / Of prancing Poetry. – Emily Dickinson

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. – T. S. Eliot

If you tell a novelist, ‘Life’s not like that’, he has to do something about it. The poet simply replies, ‘No, but I am.’ – Philip Larkin

Poetry is not the books in the library. Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book. – Jorge Luis Borges

As a poet I would say everything should be able to come into a poem but I can’t put toothbrushes in a poem. I really can’t. – Sylvia Plath

Poetry is play. I’d even rather have you think of it as a sport. For instance, like football. – Robert Frost

An age which is incapable of poetry is incapable of any kind of literature except the cleverness of a decadence. – Raymond Chandler

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is life distilled. – Gwendolyn Brooks

Painting is silent poetry, poetry is eloquent painting. – Simonides

Prose is a museum where all the old weapons of poetry are kept. – T. E. Hulme (read some of T. E. Hulme’s poems here)

A good poet is someone who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms to be struck by lightning 5 or 6 times. – Randall Jarrell

Ezra PoundPoetry is talking on tiptoe. – George Meredith

Poetry is a religion with no hope. – Jean Cocteau

Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat. – Robert Frost

Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. – Thomas Gray

Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking. – John Wain

Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone. – Adrienne Rich

Poetry is about as much a ‘criticism of life’ as red-hot iron is a criticism of fire. – Ezra Pound

Writing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo. – Don Marquis

Poetry must be new as foam, and as old as the rock. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul. – John Keats

Poetry is the only art people haven’t yet learnt to consume like soup. – W. H. Auden

NPG 2929,Thomas Hardy,by William StrangNot deep the poet sees, but wide. – Matthew Arnold

He who draws noble delights from sentiments of poetry is a true poet, though he has never written a line in all his life. – George Sand

To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet. – Thomas Hardy

Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry. – Gustave Flaubert

Prose = words in their best order; – poetry = the best words in the best order. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary. – Kahlil Gibran

Poetry is the revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal but which the reader recognizes as his own. – Salvatore Quasimodo

Poetry is the deification of reality. – Edith Sitwell

A poet’s autobiography is his poetry. Anything else is just a footnote. – Yevgeny Yentushenko

There are two ways of disliking poetry. One way is to dislike it, and the other is to read Pope. – Oscar Wilde (more Oscar Wilde quotes here)

In the house of poetry nothing endures that is not written with blood to be heard with blood. – Pablo Neruda

Emily DickinsonFor next to being a great poet is the power of understanding one. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation. – Robert Frost

Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg

You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket. – John Adams

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal. – T. S. Eliot

If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. – Emily Dickinson

If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. – John Keats

The fate of poetry is to fall in love with the world in spite of History. – Derek Walcott

Eloquence is heard; poetry is overheard. – John Stuart Mill

If you enjoyed these quotes about poetry, check out our compendium of interesting facts about poetry. For an accessible and entertaining introduction to the various forms of poetry, we’d recommend Stephen Fry’s highly readable book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within.

Images (top to bottom): Ezra Pound photographed in Kensington, London, October 22, 1913, by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Wikimedia Commons; Thomas Hardy by William Strang, 1893, public domainBlack/white photograph of Emily Dickinson by William C. North (1846/7), Wikimedia Commons.

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