C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


Poetry is the overflowing of the soul.


Poetry is the morning dream of great minds.


Poetry, the eldest sister of all arts, and parent of most.


Poetry is truth dwelling in beauty.


Poetry is the apotheosis of sentiment.

Mme. de Staël.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never.


Poetry, the sister-spirit of music.

Mme. le Vert.

Poetry is the breath of beauty.

Leigh Hunt.

Poetry is the key to the hieroglyphics of nature.

J. C. and A. W. Hare.

Poetry is the child of enthusiasm.


Poetry is to be found nowhere unless we carry it within us.


Poetry is the eloquence of verse.


The poetry of earth is never dead.


Truth shines the brighter, clad in verse.


The essence of poetry is will and passion.


The finest poetry was first experience.


Much is the force of heaven-bred poesy.


It is uninspired inspiration.

Henry Reed.

A poem round and perfect as a star.

Alexander Smith.

Only that is poetry which cleanses and mans me.


Science sees signs; poetry the thing signified.

J. C. and A. W. Hare.

Sweet food of sweetly uttered knowledge.

Sir P. Sidney.

Poetry is evidently a contagious complaint.

Washington Irving.

The intellect colored by the feelings.

Professor Wilson.

Poetry is the robe, the royal apparel, in which truth asserts its divine origin.


Poetry is the art of substituting shadows, and of lending existence to nothing.


Of all kinds of ambition, that which pursues poetical fame is the wildest.


Poetry is the attempt which man makes to render his existence harmonious.


Take the sweet poetry of life away, and what remains behind?


Poetry is the music of thought, conveyed to us in music of language.


Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds.


One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.


He murmurs near the running brooks a music sweeter than their own.


Bishop Ken styled poetry “thought in blossom.”

William Winter.

Willmott, the English essayist, says poetry is the natural religion of literature.

W. R. Alger.

Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.


In the earliest ages science was poetry, as in the latter poetry has become science.


They learn in suffering what they teach in song.


Our poetry in the eighteenth century was prose; our prose in the seventeenth, poetry.

J. C. and A. W. Hare.

What makes poetry? A full heart, brimful of one noble passion.


Heroic poetry has ever been esteemed the greatest work of human nature.


Lyrical poetry is much the same in every age, as the songs of the nightingales in every spring-time.


Poetry has been the guardian angel of humanity in all ages.


There is no heroic poem in the world but is at bottom a biography, the life of a man.


Nothing which does not transport is poetry. The lyre is a winged instrument.


Poetry is only born after painful journeys into the vast regions of thought.


The elegancy, facility and golden cadence of poesy.


  • Sweet are the pleasures that to verse belong,
  • And doubly sweet a brotherhood in song.
  • Keats.

  • Nor florid prose, nor honied lies of rhyme,
  • Can blazon evil deeds, or consecrate a crime.
  • Byron.

    The art of poetry is to touch the passions, and its duty to lead them on the side of virtue.


    As yet a child, not yet a fool to fame, I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.


    True poets, like great artists, have scarcely any childhood, and no old age.

    Mme. Swetchine.

    The poet’s leaves are gathered one by one, in the slow process of the doubtful years.

    Bayard Taylor.

    Words become luminous when the poet’s finger has passed over them its phosphorescence.


    Those are poets who write thoughts as fragrant as flowers, and in as many-colored words.

    Mme. de Krudener.

    Poetry uses the rainbow tints for special effects, but always keeps its essential object in the purest light of truth.


    Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive and widely effective mode of saying things, and hence its importance.

    Matthew Arnold.

    Every great poem is in itself limited by necessity, but in its suggestions unlimited and infinite.


    Poesy is of so subtle a spirit that in the pouring out of one language into another it will evaporate.


    Poesy, drawing within its circle all that is glorious and inspiring, gave itself but little concern as to where its flowers originally grew.

    Karl Ottfried Müller.

    Poetry teaches the enormous force of a few words, and, in proportion to the inspiration, checks loquacity.


    We hold that the most wonderful and splendid proof of genius is a great poem produced in a civilized age.


    That which moveth the heart most is the best poetry; it comes nearest unto God, the source of all power.


    Poetry is unfallen speech. Paradise knew no other, for no other would suffice to answer the need of those ecstatic days of innocence.

    Abraham Coles.

    There is as much difference between good poetry and fine verses as between the smell of a flower-garden and of a perfumer’s shop.


    Poetry and flowers are the wine and spirit of the Arab; a couplet is equal to a bottle, and a rose to a dram, without the evil effects of either.


    Never did poesy appear so full of heaven to me as when I saw how it pierced through pride and fear to the lives of coarsest men.


    Poetry is in itself strength and joy, whether it be crowned by all mankind, or left alone in its own magic hermitage.


    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.


    I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in the best order.


    The essence of poetry is invention: such invention as, by producing something unexpected, surprises and delights.

    Samuel Johnson.

    In the hands of genius the driest stick becomes an Aaron’s rod, and buds and blossoms out in poetry.

    H. N. Hudson.

    Poetry is the blossom and the fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, human passions, emotions, language.


    Milton saw not, and Beethoven heard not, but the sense of beauty was upon them, and they fain must speak.


    Poetry is the sister of Sorrow. Every man that suffers and weeps is a poet; every tear is a verse, and every heart a poem.

    Marc André.

    Poetry is enthusiasm with wings of fire; it is the angel of high thoughts, that inspires us with the power of sacrifice.


    He who, in an enlightened and literary society, aspires to be a great poet, must first become a little child.


  • Poetry is itself a thing of God;
  • He made his prophets poets; and the more
  • We feel of poesie do we become
  • Like God in love and power,—undermakers.
  • Bailey.

    The poet in prose or verse—the creator—can only stamp his images forcibly on the page in proportion as he has forcibly felt, ardently nursed, and long brooded over them.


    Poetry has been to me its own exceeding great reward; it has given me the habit of wishing to discover the good and beautiful in all that meets and surrounds me.

    S. T. Coleridge.

    True poetry, like the religious prompting itself, springs from the emotional side of a man’s complex nature, and is ever in harmony with his highest intuitions and aspirations.

    Epes Sargent.

    He who finds elevated and lofty pleasures in the feeling of poetry is a true poet, though he has never composed a line of verse in his entire lifetime.

    Mme. Dudevant.

    Poetry should be vital—either stirring our blood by its divine movements or snatching our breath by its divine perfection. To do both is supreme glory, to do either is enduring fame.

    Augustine Birrell.

    Pretty conceptions, fine metaphors, glittering expressions, and something of a neat cast of verse are properly the dress, gems, or loose ornaments of poetry.


    When the Divine Artist would produce a poem, He plants a germ of it in a human soul, and out of that soul the poem springs and grows as from the rose-tree the rose.

    James A. Garfield.

  • Blessings be with them, and eternal praise,
  • Who gave us nobler loves and nobler cares,
  • The poets, who on earth have made us heirs
  • Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays.
  • Wordsworth.

    The poet may say or sing, not as things were, but as they ought to have been; but the historian must pen them, not as they ought to have been, but as they really were.


    Poetry is music in words, and music is poetry in sound: both excellent sauce, but they have lived and died poor, that made them their meat.


    Over all life broods Poesy, like the calm blue sky with its motherly, rebuking face. She is the great reformer, and where the love of her is strong and healthy, wickedness and wrong cannot long prevail.


    An artist that works in marble or colors has them all to himself and his tribe; but the man who moulds his thoughts in verse has to employ the materials vulgarized by everybody’s use, and glorify them by his handling.

    O. W. Holmes.

    O brave poets! keep back nothing, nor mix falsehood with the whole; look up Godward; speak the truth in worthy song from earnest soul; hold, in high poetic duty, truest truth the fairest beauty!

    Mrs. Browning.

  • Then, rising with Aurora’s light,
  • The muse invoked, sit down to write;
  • Blot out, correct, insert, refine,
  • Enlarge, diminish, interline;
  • Be mindful, when invention fails,
  • To scratch your head and bite your nails.
  • Swift.

    As the falcon launched trustingly heavenward is lost to view, the course of the higher poetry often soars beyond the ken of the multitude; and, as the humble birds carol blithely round our dwellings, so the meeker lays of the muse linger tunefully about the heart.


    Poetry, good sir, in my opinion, is like a tender virgin, very young and extremely beautiful, whom divers other virgins—namely, all the other sciences—make it their business to enrich, polish, and adorn; and to her it belongs to make use of them all, and on her part to give a lustre to them all.


    Poetry interprets in two ways: it interprets by expressing, with magical felicity, the physiognomy and movements of the outward world; and it interprets by expressing, with inspired conviction, the ideas and laws of the inward world of man’s moral and spiritual nature. In other words, poetry is interpretative both by having natural magic in it, and by having moral profundity.

    Matthew Arnold.

  • I had rather be a kitten, and cry mew,
  • Than one of these same metre ballad-mongers;
  • I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn’d,
  • Or a dry wheel grate on the axle-tree;
  • And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
  • Nothing so much as mincing poetry;
  • ’Tis like the forc’d gait of a shuffling nag.
  • Shakespeare.

    There are so many tender and holy emotions flying about in our inward world, which, like angels, can never assume the body of an outward act; so many rich and lovely flowers spring up which bear no seed,—that it is a happiness poetry was invented, which receives into its limbus all these incorporated spirits and the perfume of all these flowers.


    Poetry deserves the honor it obtains as the eldest offspring of literature, and the fairest. It is the fruitfulness of many plants growing into one flower and sowing itself over the world in shapes of beauty and color, which differ with the soil that receives and the sun that ripens the seed. In Persia, it comes up the rose of Hafiz; in England, the many-blossomed tree of Shakespeare.


    Poetry reveals to us the loveliness of nature, brings back the freshness of youthful feeling, revives the relish of simple pleasures, keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the springtime of our being, refines youthful love, strengthens our interest in human nature, by vivid delineations of its tenderest and softest feelings, and, through the brightness of its prophetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life.


    Poetical taste is the only magician whose wand is not broken. No hand, except its own, can dissolve the fabric of beauty in which it dwells. Genii, unknown to Arabian fable, wait at the portal. Whatever is most precious from the loom or the mine of fancy is poured at its feet. Love, purified by contemplation, visits and cheers it; unseen musicians are heard in the dark; it is Psyche in the palace of Cupid.


  • What is a Sonnet? ’Tis the pearly shell
  • That murmurs of the far-off, murmuring sea;
  • A precious jewel carved most curiously;
  • It is a little picture painted well.
  • What is a Sonnet? ’Tis the tear that fell
  • From a great poet’s hidden ecstacy;
  • A two-edged sword, a star, a song—ah me!
  • Sometimes a heavy tolling funeral bell.
  • R. W. Gilder.

    In the hands of genius, the driest stick becomes an Aaron’s rod, and buds and blossoms out in poetry. Is he a Burns? the sight of a mountain daisy unseals the fountains of his nature, and he embalms the “bonny gem” in the beauty of his spirit. Is he a Wordsworth? at his touch all nature is instinct with feeling; the spirit of beauty springs up in the footsteps of his going, and the darkest, nakedest grave becomes a sunlit bank empurpled with blossoms of life.

    H. N. Hudson.

    Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge: it is immortal as the heart of men. If the labors of the men of science should ever create any revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the poet will then sleep no more than at present; he will be ready to follow the steps of the man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the objects of the science itself. The remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, or mineralogist will be as proper objects of the poet’s art as any upon which it can be employed, if the time should ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of the respective sciences shall be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man.


    We have more poets than judges and interpreters of poetry. It is easier to write an indifferent poem than to understand a good one. There is, indeed, a certain low and moderate sort of poetry, that a man may well enough judge by certain rules of art; but the true, supreme, and divine poesy is equally above all rules and reason. And whoever discerns the beauty of it with the most assured and most steady sight sees no more than the quick reflection of a flash of lightning.