Forgive the way I have lived indifferent - forgive my timid circumspect involvement.

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A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs.

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The poet is produced by the people because the people need him.

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I think poets are string theorists in some ways. They are trying to bring the macro and the micro constantly into a single focus.

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Bad luck for the young poet would be a rich father, an early marriage, an early success or the ability to do anything well.

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Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten.

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Poetry is a way of looking at the world for the first time.

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I have never separated the writing of poetry from prayer.

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When you learn another language deeply you grow another self completely.

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The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, And, as imagination bodies forth The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen Turns them into shapes, and gives to airy nothing A local habitation and name.

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Metaphor is a part of the not-knowing aspect of art, and yet I’m firmly convinced that it is the supreme way of searching for truth. How can this be?

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Between religion’s ‘this is’ and poetry’s ‘ but suppose this is,’ there must always be some kind of tension, until the possibilities and the actual meet at infinity.

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If society abolishes poetry it commits spiritual suicide.

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I give you the end of a golden string, Only wind it into a ball, It will lead in at Heaven's gate Built in Jerusalem's wall.

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Language is the element of definition, the defining and descriptive incantation. It puts the coin between our teeth. It whistles the boat up. It shows us the city of light across the water. Without language there is no poetry, without poetry there's just talk. Talk is cheap and proves nothing. Poetry is dear and difficult to come by. But it poles us across the river and puts music in our ears.

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It is the responsibility of the poet to say many times: there is no freedom without justice and this means economic justice and love justice.

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Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

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A lot of being a poet consists of willed ignorance.

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A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs.

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If Galileo had said in verse that the world moved, the Inquisition might have let him alone.

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Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.

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“… those who think metaphorically are enabled to think truly because the shape of their thinking echoes the shape of the world.

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Yesterday, no trees demanded insight from me. And they won’t again today. Therefore, I walk among them again.

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No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

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Now that my ladder's gone / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

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Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky, / We fell them down and turn them into paper, / That we may record our emptiness.

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Poetry takes care of itself. All art does - that is paramount. In a survival race, I'm quite sure poetry will long outlast reality TV and Twitter.

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Even when I’m stretched out in my coffin they may find me tinkering with some poem.

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Any metaphor is comprehensible only to the extent that the domains from which it is drawn are familiar.

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You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it.

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I am in the middle of it: chaos and poetry; poetry and love and again, complete chaos. Pain, disorder, occasional clarity; and at the bottom of it all: only love; poetry. Sheer enchantment, fear, humiliation. It all comes with love.

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A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry.

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Debate doesn’t really change things. It gets you bogged in deeper. If you can address or reopen the subject with something new, something from a different angle, then there is some hope. … People are suddenly gazing at something else and pausing for a moment. And for the duration of that gaze and pause, they are like reflectors of the totality of their own knowledge and/or ignorance. . That’s something poetry can do for you, it can entrance you for a moment above the pool of your own consciousness and your own possibilities.

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Though philosophers like to define poetry as irrational fancy, for us it is practical, humorous, reasonable way of being ourselves. Of never acquiescing in a fraud; of never accepting the secondary-rate in poetry, painting, music, love, friends. Of safeguarding our poetic institutions against the encroachments of mechanized, insensate, inhumane, abstract rationality.

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The deeper discipline of poetry is overhearing yourself say things you didn’t want to know about the world.

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I believe in the power of poetry, which gives me reasons to look ahead and identify a glint of light.

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