„Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves.“

The Poet and the World (1996)
Context: Contemporary poets are skeptical and suspicious even, or perhaps especially, about themselves. They publicly confess to being poets only reluctantly, as if they were a little ashamed of it. But in our clamorous times it's much easier to acknowledge your faults, at least if they're attractively packaged, than to recognize your own merits, since these are hidden deeper and you never quite believe in them yourself.

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update June 3, 2021. History
Wisława Szymborska photo
Wisława Szymborska92
Polish writer 1923 - 2012

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„Perhaps these in stances [Mewar, Kangra, and Ajmer] made a contemporary poet of his court sing his praises as the great Muslim emperor who converted temples into mosques.“

—  Jahangir 4th Mughal Emperor 1569 - 1627

Badshah-Nama Badshah Nama cited by Sri Ram Sharma, p. 63. Sharma, Sri Ram, Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors, Bombay, 1962.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay photo

„Perhaps no person can be a poet, or even enjoy poetry, without a certain unsoundness of mind.“

—  Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay British historian and Whig politician 1800 - 1859

On Milton (1825)

William Faulkner photo
Nicolas Chamfort photo

„Poets, orators, even philosophes, say the same things about fame we were told as boys to encourage us to win prizes. What they tell children to make them prefer being praised to eating jam tarts is the same idea constantly drummed into us to encourage us to sacrifice our real interests in the hope of being praised by our contemporaries or by posterity.“

—  Nicolas Chamfort French writer 1741 - 1794

Ce que les poètes, les orateurs, même quelques philosophes nous disent sur l'amour de la Gloire, on nous le disait au Collège, pour nous encourager à avoir les prix. Ce que l'on dit aux enfants pour les engager à préférer à une tartelette les louanges de leurs bonnes, c'est ce qu'on répète aux hommes pour leur faire préférer à un intérêt personnel les éloges de leurs contemporains ou de la postérité.
Maximes et Pensées, #85
Reflections

„When I was asked to talk about the Obscurity of the Modern Poet I was delighted, for I have suffered from this obscurity all my life. But then I realized that I was being asked to talk not about the fact that people don’t read poetry, but about the fact that most of them wouldn’t understand it if they did: about the difficulty, not the neglect, of contemporary poetry.“

—  Randall Jarrell poet, critic, novelist, essayist 1914 - 1965

“The Obscurity of the Poet”, p. 3
Poetry and the Age (1953)
Context: When I was asked to talk about the Obscurity of the Modern Poet I was delighted, for I have suffered from this obscurity all my life. But then I realized that I was being asked to talk not about the fact that people don’t read poetry, but about the fact that most of them wouldn’t understand it if they did: about the difficulty, not the neglect, of contemporary poetry. And yet it is not just modern poetry, but poetry, that is today obscure. Paradise Lost is what it was; but the ordinary reader no longer makes the mistake of trying to read it — instead he glances at it, weighs it in his hand, shudders, and suddenly, his eyes shining, puts it on his list of the ten dullest books he has ever read, along with Moby-Dick, War and Peace, Faust, and Boswell’s Life of Johnson. But I am doing this ordinary reader an injustice: it was not the Public, nodding over its lunch-pail, but the educated reader, the reader the universities have trained, who a few weeks ago, to the Public’s sympathetic delight, put together this list of the world’s dullest books.
Since most people know about the modern poet only that he is obscure—i. e., that he is difficult, i. e., that he is neglected — they naturally make a causal connection between the two meanings of the word, and decide that he is unread because he is difficult. Some of the time this is true: the poet seems difficult because he is not read, because the reader is not accustomed to reading his or any other poetry.

Fernando Pessoa photo

„Tedium is the lack of a mithology. To whom has no beliefs, even doubt is impossible, even skepticism has no strength to suspect.“

—  Fernando Pessoa, book The Book of Disquiet

Ibid.
The Book of Disquiet
Original: O tédio é a falta de uma mitologia. A quem não tem crenças, até a dúvida é impossível, até o cepticismo não tem força para desconfiar.

W. H. Auden photo
Terry Goodkind photo
Charles Baudelaire photo

„Their common assumption [communists and left-wing poets] is that every one must stand somewhere politically - and especially the poets, who are under suspicion as unpractical people who shirk the responsibility of taking a stand.“

—  Laura Riding Jackson poet, critic, novelist, essayist and short story writer 1901 - 1991

Laura Riding and Harry Kemp from The Left Heresy in Literature and Life (London: Methuen, 1939)

Aphra Behn photo
Tom Stoppard photo
Richard Brautigan photo

„Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this“

—  Richard Brautigan American novelist, poet, and short story writer 1935 - 1984

Source: Loading Mercury With a Pitchfork

Gaston Bachelard photo
Galileo Galilei photo

„Beside themselves with passion, some of them would not be backward even about scheming to suppress and silence their adversaries.“

—  Galileo Galilei, book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems

Source: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632), p. 322
Context: In the long run my observations have convinced me that some men, reasoning preposterously, first establish some conclusion in their minds which, either because of its being their own or because of their having received it from some person who has their entire confidence, impresses them so deeply that one finds it impossible ever to get it out of their heads. Such arguments in support of their fixed idea as they hit upon themselves or hear set forth by others, no matter how simple and stupid these may be, gain their instant acceptance and applause. On the other hand whatever is brought forward against it, however ingenious and conclusive, they receive with disdain or with hot rage — if indeed it does not make them ill. Beside themselves with passion, some of them would not be backward even about scheming to suppress and silence their adversaries.

Conor Oberst photo

„Well let the poets cry themselves to sleep
And all their tearful words will turn back into steam“

—  Conor Oberst American musician 1980

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)

Francisco Aragón photo

„The advice to any young poet is to embrace your freedom and not feel constrained to write in one particular way or only about one particular topic. If they’re Latino poets, I would encourage them not only to read widely, but also to read Latino poetry, to familiarize themselves with their particular tradition within American literature…“

—  Francisco Aragón poet 1968

On his advice to Latino poets in “Interview with Francisco Aragón: Latino Poetry From All Its Perspectives” https://www.sampsoniaway.org/literary-voices/2010/09/16/interview-with-francisco-aragon-latino-poetry-from-all-its-perspectives/ in Sampsonia Way (2010 Sept 16)

Colette photo

„To a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one.“

—  Colette 1873-1954 French novelist: wrote Gigi 1873 - 1954

Paris From My Window (1944)

Jorge Luis Borges photo

„He consorted with prostitutes and poets… and with persons even worse.“

—  Jorge Luis Borges Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish language literature 1899 - 1986

Source: Collected Fictions

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