10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by W.H. Auden

024

“In the eyes of others a man is a poet if he has written one good poem. In his own he is only a poet at the moment when he is making his last revision to a new poem. The moment before, he was still only a potential poet; the moment after, he is a man who has ceased to write poetry, perhaps forever.”

“Language is the mother, not the handmaiden, of thought; words will tell you things you never thought or felt before.”

“No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.”

“I just try to put the thing out and hope somebody will read it. Someone says: ‘Whom do you write for?’ I reply: ‘Do you read me?’ If they say ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Do you like it?’ If they say ‘No,’ then I say, ‘I don’t write for you.’ “

“The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor – dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.”

“The chances are that, in the course of his lifetime, the major poet will write more bad poems than the minor, simply because major poets write a lot.”

“A writer, or at least a poet, is always being asked by people who should know better: “Whom do you write for?” The question is, of course, a silly one, but I can give it a silly answer. Occasionally I come across a book which I feel has been written especially for me and for me only. Like a jealous lover I don’t want anybody else to hear of it. To have a million such readers, unaware of each other’s existence, to be read with passion and never talked about, is the daydream, surely, of every author.”

“A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.”

“But if a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer “writer” for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer “poetry” would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody can earn a living simply by writing poetry.”

“The ideal audience the poet imagines consists of the beautiful who go to bed with him, the powerful who invite him to dinner and tell him secrets of state, and his fellow-poets. The actual audience he gets consists of myopic schoolteachers, pimply young men who eat in cafeterias, and his fellow-poets. This means, in fact, he writes for his fellow-poets.”

-W. H. Auden

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.