10 Great Quotes About Poets and Poetry by Archibald MacLeish


“A poem should not mean, but be.”

“Journalism wishes to tell what it is that has happened everywhere as though the same things had happened for every man. Poetry wishes to say what it is like for any man to be himself in the presence of a particular occurrence as though only he were alone there.”

“If you commit yourself to the art of poetry, you commit yourself to the task of learning how to see, using words as elements of sight and their sounds as prisms. And to see means to see something worth all the agony of learning how to see.”

“A poem should be palpable and mute as a globed fruit.”

“Poets are literal-minded men who will squeeze a word till it hurts.”

“If the poem can be improved by the author’s explanations, it never should have been published.”

“Poetry which owes no man anything, owes nevertheless one debt – an image of the world in which men can again believe.”

“If the art of poetry is the art of making sense of the chaos of human experience, it’s not a bad thing to see a lot of chaos.”

“Young poets are advised by their elders to avoid the practice of journalism as they would wet socks and gin before breakfast.”

“Poetry is the art of understanding what it is to be alive.”

– Archibald MacLeish