10 More Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Robert Graves

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“Poetry began in the matriarchal age, and derives its magic from the moon, not from the sun. No poet can hope to understand the nature of poetry unless he has had a vision of the Naked King crucified to the lopped oak, and watched the dancers, red-eyed from the acrid smoke of the sacrificial fires, stamping out the measure of the dance, their bodies bent uncouthly forward, with a monotonous chant of “Kill! kill! kill!” and “Blood! blood! blood!”

“The poet avoids the entire vocabulary of logic unless for satiric purposes, and treats words as living creatures with a preference for those with long emotional histories dating from mediaeval times. Poetry at its purest is, indeed, a defiance of logic.”

“A poet’s destiny is to love.”

“Nine-tenths of English poetic literature is the result either of vulgar careerism or of a poet trying to keep his hand in. Most poets are dead by their late twenties.”

“I revise the manuscript till I can’t read it any longer, then I get somebody to type it. Then I revise the typing. Then it’s retyped again. Then there’s a third typing, which is the final one. Nothing should then remain that offends the eye.”

“Prose books are the show dogs I breed and sell to support my cat.”

“The award of a pure gold medal for poetry would flatter the recipient unduly: no poem ever attains such carat purity. “

“Never use the word ‘audience.’ The very idea of a public, unless the poet is writing for money, seems wrong to me. Poets don’t have an ‘audience’. They’re talking to a single person all the time.”

“Poetry is no more a narcotic than a stimulant; it is a universal bittersweet mixture for all possible household emergencies and its action varies accordingly as it is taken in a wineglass or a tablespoon, inhaled, gargled or rubbed on the chest by hard fingers covered with rings.”

“Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves.”

— Robert Graves

10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Robert Graves

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“There is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.”

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”

“Every English poet should master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them.”

“The poet’s first rule must be never to bore his readers; and his best way of keeping this rule is never to bore himself-which, of course, means to write only when he has something urgent to say.”

“Fact is not truth, but a poet who wilfully defies fact cannot achieve truth.”

“To be a poet is a condition rather than a profession.”

“No poem is worth anything unless it starts from a poetic trance, out of which you can be wakened by interruption as from a dream. In fact, it is the same thing.”

“If I thought that any poem of mine could have been written by anyone else, either a contemporary or a forerunner, I should suppress it with a blush; and I should do the same if I ever found I were imitating myself. Every poem should be new, unexpected, inimitable, and incapable of being parodied.”

“I don’t really feel my poems are mine at all. I didn’t create them out of nothing. I owe them to my relations with other people.”

“A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end.”

— Robert Graves