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50 Poetry Quotes Perfect For Contemplating the Power of Words

These poetry quotes will leave you with a new appreciation or a renewed love of poetry.

I’ve been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. Shel Silverstein was my favorite poet when I was a kid. Then I moved on to Thoreau, Frost, and Dickinson. A Robert Frost poem was actually the catalyst for an adventure my friend and I went on in high school. I wrote a story about it, in true poetry fashion.

So what exactly is poetry? What does it mean to be a poet? Many poets answer that question in these poetry quotes. Poetry is different for everyone.

It is magical because good poetry starts out as your most inner thoughts, fears, and dreams. It comes from a place so deep inside; you think your words will only make sense to you.

However, when others read your words, it feels like you wrote it just for them. The magic is in poetry’s ability to be intensely personal, yet unfathomably relatable at the same time. Enjoy these poetry quotes and sayings!

Don’t forget to also check out these famous poems to inspire you when you feel like giving up.

Famous poetry quotes from men

1. “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.” — Plato

2. “Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” — Khalil Gibran

3. “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.” — William Wordsworth

4. “Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toenails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.” — Dylan Thomas

5. “Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” — Edgar Allan Poe

6. “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.” — Robert Frost

7. “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” — Carl Sandburg

8. “Poetry is emotion, passion, love, grief—everything that is human. It is not for zombies by zombies.” — F. Sionil Jose

9. “Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone.” — Lawrence Ferlinghetti

10. “Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.” — Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Deep poetry quotes from women

11. “Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth.” — June Jordan

12. “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.” — Rita Dove

13. “Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” — Alice Walker

14. “Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it begins as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth.” — Mary Oliver

15. “Everything you invent is true: you can be sure of that. Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry.” — Julian Barnes

16. “Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.” — Sylvia Plath

17. “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.” — Emily Dickinson

18. “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” — Emily Dickinson

Poetry quotes about the world around us

19. “What the world wants, what the world is waiting for, is not Modern Poetry or Classical Poetry or Neo-Classical Poetry — but Good Poetry. And the dreadful disreputable doubt, which stirs in my own skeptical mind, is doubt about whether it would really matter much what style a poet chose to write in, in any period, as long as he wrote Good poetry.” — G. K. Chesterton

20. “A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.” — Dylan Thomas

21. “I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.” — Billy Collins

22. “The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness.” — James Gates Percival

23. “You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.” — Carol Ann Duffy

Poetry quotes about what it means to be a poet

24. “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” — W. H. Auden

25. “Poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity.” — Samuel Beckett

26. “A poet’s work… to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.” — Salman Rushdie

27. “Always be a poet, even in prose.” — Charles Baudelaire

28. “Poets are shameless with their experiences: they exploit them.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

29. “Therefore’ is a word the poet must not know.” — Andre Gide

30. “I consider myself a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.”  Bob Dylan

31. “The poet is the priest of the invisible.” — Wallace Stevens

32. “All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’” — Sonia Sanchez

33. “You must have a certain amount of maturity to be a poet. Seldom do sixteen-year-olds know themselves well enough.” — Erica Jong

34. “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” — T. S. Eliot

Poetry quotes and lines from famous poet Maya Angelou

35. “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” — Maya Angelou

36. “Nothing will work unless you do.” — Maya Angelou

37. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

38. “Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” — Maya Angelou

39. “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” — Maya Angelou

40. “You alone are enough, you have nothing to prove to anybody.” — Maya Angelou

More poetry quotes and lines

41. “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” — Robert Frost

42. “Poetry cannot breathe in the scholar’s atmosphere.” — Henry David Thoreau

43. “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.” — Oscar Wilde.

44. “Poetry comes from the highest happiness or the deepest sorrow.” — A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

45. “Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.” — W. H. Auden

46. “Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful, you find coexistence; it breaks walls down.” — Mahmoud Darwish

47. “It was at that age, that poetry came in search of me.” — Pablo Neruda

48. “One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters… But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.” — Charles Baudelaire

49. “There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away nor any coursers like a page of prancing Poetry.” — Emily Dickinson

50. “Don’t write love poems when you’re in love. Write them when you’re not in love.” — Richard Hugo

What did you learn from these poetry quotes?

If you are a student of poetry, then you know that there are many kinds of poems and styles. Some have rules and standards like haiku and sonnets. Free verse gives you the ability to express yourself with no confines. Most poetry uses meter and imagery, but poetry has come a long way since classic English Literature.

A poem isn’t necessarily about how many stanzas you have, or the syllable count. Poetry can be written dramatically using stanzas and line breaks, or it can be heard passionately out loud at a reading. You should absorb poetry in whatever form speaks to your soul. And good poetry should do just that.

Who is your favorite poet? Do you have a favorite poem? Share it with us in the comment section below along with your favorite poetry quotes and sayings. I will leave you with a line from my favorite poem:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

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