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Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings,
by A. R. Ammons

Poetry leads us to the unstructured sources of our beings,
to the unknown, and returns us to our rational,
structured selves refreshed.
- A. R. Ammons

Everything is discursive opinion instead of direct experience.
- A. R. Ammons

Each poem in becoming generates the laws by which it is generated:
extensions of the laws to other poems never completely take.
- A. R. Ammons

Definition, rationality, and structure are ways of seeing,
but they become prisons when they blank out other ways of seeing.
- A. R. Ammons

 

Questions structure and, so, to some extent predetermine answers.
- A. R. Ammons

The poet exposes himself to the risk.
All that has been said about poetry,
all that he has learned about poetry,
is only a partial assurance.
- A. R. Ammons

Once every five hundred years or so,
a summary statement about poetry comes along that we
can't imagine ourselves living without.
- A. R. Ammons

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A poem generated by its own laws may be unrealized
and bad in terms of so-called objective principles of taste,
judgement, deduction.
- A. R. Ammons

I take the walk to be the externalization of an interior
seeking so that the analogy is first of all between
the external and the internal.
- A. R. Ammons

In nature there are few sharp lines.
- A. R. Ammons

If the greatest god is the stillness all the motions add up to,
then we must ineluctably be included.
- A. R. Ammons

Is it not careless to become too local when there are
four hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.
- A. R. Ammons

Probably all the attention to poetry results in some value,
though the attention is more often directed to lesser than to greater values.
- A. R. Ammons

If a poem is each time new, then it is necessarily an act of discovery,
a chance taken, a chance that may lead to fulfillment or disaster.
- A. R. Ammons

You have your identity when you find out,
not what you can keep your mind on, but what you can't keep your mind off.
- A. R. Ammons

Only silence perfects silence.
- A. R. Ammons

If we ask a vague question, such as,
'What is poetry?' we expect a vague answer,
such as, 'Poetry is the music of words,'
or 'Poetry is the linguistic correction of disorder.'
- A. R. Ammons

I am grateful for - though I can't keep up with -
the flood of articles,
theses, and textbooks that mean to share insight concerning the nature of poetry.
- A. R. Ammons

For though we often need to be restored to the small,
concrete, limited, and certain, we as often need to
be reminded of the large,
vague, unlimited, unknown.
- A. R. Ammons

Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful.
- A. R. Ammons

There's something to be said in favor of working in
isolation in the real world.
- A. R. Ammons

I can't tell you where a poem comes from,
what it is, or what it is for: nor can any other man.
The reason I can't tell you is that the purpose of
a poem is to go past telling,
to be recognised by burning.
- A. R. Ammons

That's a wonderful change that's taken place,
and so most poetry today is published,
if not directly by the person, certainly by the enterprise of the poet himself,
working with his friends.
- A. R. Ammons

Besides the actual reading in class of many poems,
I would suggest you do two things: first,
while teaching everything you can and keeping free of it,
teach that poetry is a mode of discourse that differs from logical exposition.
- A. R. Ammons

I must stress here the point that I appreciate clarity,
order, meaning, structure, rationality:
they are necessary to whatever provisional stability we have,
and they can be the agents of gradual and successful change.
- A. R. Ammons

Even if you walk exactly the same route each time -
as with a sonnet -
the events along the route cannot be imagined to be
the same from day to day,
as the poet's health, sight, his anticipations,
moods, fears, thoughts cannot be the same.
- A. R. Ammons

If a man is called to be a street sweeper,
he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted,
or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.
He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts
of heaven and earth will pause to say,
here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youth, large, lusty, loving -
Youth, full of grace, force, fascination.
Do you know that Old Age may come after you
with equal grace, force, fascination?
- Walt Whitman

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

Poetry is what gets lost in translation.
- Robert Frost

Poetry: the best words in the best order.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing.
- John Cage

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.
- Carl Sandburg

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and
the thought has found words.
- Robert Frost

Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
- Plato

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has,
it may be inadvisable to draw it out...
Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.
- A. E. Housman

You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.
- Joseph Joubert

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.
- Rita Dove

Poetry should...
should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts,
and appear almost a remembrance.
- John Keats

Poetry is just the evidence of life.
If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
- Leonard Cohen

Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power.
Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions,
all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.
- Paul Engle

Any healthy man can go without food for two days -
but not without poetry.
- Charles Baudelaire

The River of Life has no meaning, no good, no bad,
no better, no worse, no love, no hate, no fear, no anger, no joy.
The River of Life has no judgment, no expectation.
The River of Life just IS. There is nothing to do.
There is nothing to say.
There is nothing to think.
There is nothing to feel.
The River just flows. The River is the source of all nourishment -
the source of all obstacles.
The River is the source of all life - the source of all death.
The River is the source of all joy - and the source of all sorrow.
Yet the River has no joy - and the River has no sorrow.
The River is just the River.
One can flow harmoniously with the River -
or one can struggle fearfully against the River -
and the River just flows.
One can accept the River - or one can deny the River -
and the River just flows.
One can worship the River of Life - or one can curse the River of Life -
and the River just flows. There is nothing to do - and the River flows.
There is nothing to say - and the River flows.
There is nothing to think - and the River flows.
There is nothing to feel - and the River flows.
The River flows - and all else is our drama.
The River flows - and all else is our invention.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.
- William Hazlitt

Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings,
and making music with them.
- Dennis Gabor

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money,
either.
- Robert Graves

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

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

Poetry is an orphan of silence.
The words never quite equal the experience behind them.
- Charles Simic

The River of Life flows without emotion.
The River surges. The River quiets.
The River overflows its banks. The River dries to a trickle.
The River swirls and storms. The River becomes calm.
The River runs clear. The River runs dark with silt.
The River is indifferent to what benefit
or what harm is caused by its water.
The River is the River, and that is all there is to it.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

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

To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one.
- John Ruskin

Sometimes poetry is inspired by the conversation entered
into by reading other poems.
- John Barton

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason.
- Novalis

Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that.
Poetry is as precise as geometry.
- Gustave Flaubert

A poet's autobiography is his poetry.
Anything else is just a footnote.
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

The River of Life has no judgments.
The River flows with no concept of good and bad - right and wrong.
The fields and dreams of men may be nourished by the River of Life,
or flooded and covered with silt, and the River just flows.
Men may catch fish and live on the River of Life,
or they may founder in a storm and drown, and the River just flows.
The River of Life is timeless.
It is not unchanging, but it is timeless,
and it changes in its own time.
The River of Life knows no obstacles.
The River can cut through solid rock - in its own time.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.
- Plutarch

All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
- Oscar Wilde

Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

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

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

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door,
leaving those who look through to guess about what
is seen during the moment.
- Carl Sandburg

One merit of poetry few persons will deny:
it says more and in fewer words than prose.
- Voltaire

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

Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
- Marianne Moore

Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.
- Muriel Rukeyser

One will never again look at a birch tree,
after the Robert Frost poem, in exactly the same way.
- Paul Muldoon

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
- W. H. Auden

A poet looks at the world the way a man looks at a woman.
- Wallace Stevens

The poet may be used as a barometer,
but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.
- Lionel Trilling


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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

 


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