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No poem is easily grasped; so why should any reader expect fast results?
In working on a poem, I love to revise. Lots of younger poets don't enjoy this, but in the process of revision I discover things.
I'm writing a poem right now about a nose. I've always wanted to write a poem about a nose. But it's a ludicrous subject. That's why, when I was younger, I was afraid of something that didn't make a lot of sense. But now I'm not. I have nothing to worry about. It doesn't matter.
My best days do seem like a distillation of all that was best about school. Write a story! Paint a picture! Write a poem! Make a print!
If you read quickly to get through a poem to what it means, you have missed the body of the poem.
M. H. Abrams
The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme.
The poem is not, as someone put it, deflective of entry. But the real question is, 'What happens to the reader once he or she gets inside the poem?' That's the real question for me, is getting the reader into the poem and then taking the reader somewhere, because I think of poetry as a kind of form of travel writing.
With several different kinds of poetry to choose from, a man would decide that he would like best to be an epic poet, and he would set out, in conscious determination, on an epic poem.
Every poem probably has sixty drafts behind it.
I see the poem or the novel ending with an open door.
What is it precisely, that feeling of 'returning' from a poem? Something is lighter, softer, larger - then it fades, but never completely.
The novel is born of disillusionment; the poem, of despair.
No poem, not even Shakespeare or Milton or Chaucer, is ever strong enough to totally exclude every crucial precursor text or poem.
I don't see that a single line can constitute a stanza, although it can constitute a whole poem.
It was early on in 1965 when I wrote some of my first poems. I sent a poem to 'Harper's' magazine because they paid a dollar a line. I had an eighteen-line poem, and just as I was putting it into the envelope, I stopped and decided to make it a thirty-six-line poem. It seemed like the poem came back the next day: no letter, nothing.
Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.
In high school I was very much involved in poetry. You cannot read a poem quickly. There's too much going on there. There are rhythms and alliterations. You have to read poetry slow, slow, slow to absorb it all.
Eugene H. Peterson
A poem with grandly conceived and executed stanzas, such as one of Keats's odes, should be like an enfilade of rooms in a palace: one proceeds, with eager anticipation, from room to room.
I find purer philosophy in a Poem than in a Conclusion of Geometry, a chemical analysis, or a physical law.
The term 'epitaph' itself means 'something to be spoken at a burial or engraved upon a tomb.' When an epitaph is a poem written for a tomb, and appears in a book, we are aware that we are not reading it in its proper form: we are reading a reproduction. The original of the epitaph is the tomb itself, with its words cut into the stone.
Working alone on a poem, a poet is of all artists the most free. The poem can be written with a modicum of technology, and can be published, in most cases, quite cheaply.
A poem I write is not just about me; it is about national identity, not just regional but national, the history of people in relation to other people. I reach for these outward stories to make sense of my own life, and how my story intersects with a larger public history.
The first thing I tried to do in the months after losing my mother was to write a poem. I found myself turning to poetry in the way so many people do - to make sense of losses. And I wrote pretty bad poems about it. But it did feel that the poem was the only place that could hold this grief.
Poetry was one of the things that interested me most as I was growing up. I used to write it in my head all the time. I still think the very greatest pleasure in life is to write a poem.
The second, and I think this is the much more overt and I think it is the main cause, I have been increasingly demonstrating or trying to demonstrate that every possible stance a critic, a scholar, a teacher can take towards a poem is itself inevitably and necessarily poetic.
William Arthur Ward
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
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