Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"Kindness, the poetry of the heart." - Louis-Aimé Martin

"I live in the world, but I seem to myself not of it!.. Natural phenomena are but the shadows of the spirit form which they spring, as the human face changes under the influence of love, hatred or fear... When, O when, shall I be able to reveal its poetry? I see everywhere and in ever object unceasing motion, and in that motion a creative force forever and forever repeating and re-repeating the same simple process as to infinity. Through all nature the grand rhythms roll and heaven and earth are filled with the melody. Men are but boys chasing shadows. The spiritual significance of the world none seem to see - the infinite simplicity of its process are none care to understand." - H. B.

"Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine, or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. And in so doing you must let go of your subjective preoccupation with yourself.... Your poetry arises by itself when you and the object become one." - Matsuo Bashō, born Matsuo Kinsaku, then Matsuo Chūemon Munefusa

"Life is short - while we speak it flies; enjoy, then, the present, and forget the future; such is the moral of ancient poetry, a graceful and a wise moral - indulged beneath a southern sky, and all deserving the phrase applied to it, “The philosophy of the garden.”" -

"Benevolence is not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. It is a business with men as they are, and with human life as drawn by the rough hand of experience. It is a duty which you must perform at the call of principle; though there be no voice of eloquence to give splendor to your exertions, and no music of poetry to lead your willing footsteps through the bowers of enchantment. It is not the impulse of high and ecstatic emotion. It is an exertion of principle. :You must go to the poor man’s cottage, though no verdure flourish around it, the gentleness of its murmurs. If you look for the romantic simplicity of fiction you will be disappointed; but it is your duty to persevere in spite of every discouragement. Benevolence is not merely a feeling but a principle; not a dream of rapture for the fancy to indulge in, but a business for the hand to execute." - Thomas Chalmers

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

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

"The direct relation of music is not to ideas, but to emotions - in the works of its greatest masters, it is more marvelous, more mysterious than poetry." - Henry Giles

"What poetry there is in human tears!" - Heinrich Heine

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

"Here is a wonder: we have many more poets than judges and interpreters of poetry. It is easier to create it than to understand it. On a certain low level it can be judged by precepts and by art. But the good, supreme, divine poetry is above the rules and reason." - Michel de Montaigne, fully Lord Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

"The whole secret of remaining young in spite of years, and even of gray hairs, is to cherish enthusiasm in oneself, by poetry, by contemplation, by charity, - that is, in fewer words, the maintenance of harmony in the soul. When everything is in its right place within us, we ourselves are in its right place within us, we ourselves are in equilibrium with the whole work of God. Deep and grave enthusiasm for the eternal beauty and the eternal order, reason touched with emotion and a serene tenderness of heart - these surely are the foundations of wisdom." -

"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." - Father Andre

"It takes most men five years to recover from a college education, and to learn that poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge." - Brooks Atkinson, fully Justin Brooks Atkinson

"A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become." - W. H. Auden, fully Wystan Hugh Auden

"Poetry is not concerned with telling people what to do, but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity for action more urgent and its nature more clear, but only leading us to the point where it is possible for us to make a rational and moral choice." - W. H. Auden and J. Garrett

"As long as the soul animates man, and longs for light and thirsts for beauty, man needs the fountain of poetry." - Hayim Nahim Bialik, also Chaim or Haim

"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

"Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind." - Maxwell Bodenheim

"There are other similarities between poetry and children's speech. Poets tend to look for significant evocative detail --something straight out of life -- to carry their meaning, and to avoid the vaguely general or abstract terms. With young children it is not a matter of choice. Their ideas must take a concrete form of expression because they have not mastered the art of masking and handling (Sign-mind) abstraction. A five year old boy in an infants' class once said, "Oh, yes, I know Geography. Its polar bears at the top and penguins at the bottom."" -

"Poetry is that art which selects and arranges the symbols of thought in such a manner as to excite the imagination the most powerfully and delightfully." - William Cullen Bryant

"The golden age never leaves the world; it exists still, and shall exist, till love, health, and poetry, are no more - but only for the young." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"Poetry is the utterance of deep and heart felt truth. The true poet is very near the oracle." - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

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

"All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry." - G. K. Chesterton, fully Gilbert Keith Chesterton

"In my religion there would be no exclusive doctrine; all would be love, poetry and doubt." - Cyril Connolly, fully Cyril Vernon Connolly

"Most people do not believe in anything very much and our greatest poetry is given to us by those who do." - Cyril Connolly, fully Cyril Vernon Connolly

"You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." - Mario Cuomo

"If I had my life to live again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." - Charles Darwin, fully Charles Robert Darwin

"If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would have thus been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature." - Charles Darwin, fully Charles Robert Darwin

"We are weak today in ideal matters because intelligence is divorced from aspiration. The bare force of circumstance compels us onwards in the daily detail of our beliefs and acts, but our deeper thoughts and desires turn backwards. When philosophy shall have co-operated with the course of events and made clear and coherent the meaning of the daily detail, science and emotion will interpenetrate, practice and imagination will embrace. Poetry and religious feeling will be the unforced flowers of life. To further this articulation and revelation of the meanings of the current course of events is the task and problem of philosophy in days of transition." - John Dewey

"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those we have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these things." -

"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." -

"The Zen ways and arts draw a bridge from real artistic creation in painting, architecture, poetry) to artistic skills like flower arrangement and gardening, and ultimately to all of everyday life. The religious is found in the everyday, the sacred in the profane; indeed the everyday is religious, the profane is sacred." - Heinrich Dumoulin

"Formerly, people believed that the sugar cane alone yielded sugar; nowadays it is extracted from almost anything. It is the same with poetry. Let us draw it, no matter whence, for it lies everywhere, and in all things." - Gustave Flaubert

"I don't know a better preparation for life than a love of poetry and a good digestion." - Zona Gale

"It is by faith that poetry, as well as devotion, soars above this dull earth; that imagination breaks through its clouds, breathes a purer air, and lives in a softer light." - Henry Giles

"Poetry is truth dwelling in beauty." - George Gilfillan

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Superstition is the poetry of life." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"What makes poetry? A full heart, brimful of one noble passion." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"A fine thought, to become poetry, must be seasoned in the upper warm garrets of the mind for long and long, then it must be brought down and slowly carved in to words, shaped with emotion, polished with love." - David Grayson, pseudonym of Ray Stannard Baker

"Women are the poetry of the world in the same sense as the stars are the poetry of heaven. Clear, light-giving, harmonious, they are the terrestrial planets that rule the destinies of mankind." -

"Poetry begotten of passion is ever debasing; poetry born of real heartfulness, always ennobles and uplifts." - Alphonso A. Hopkins

"Poetry is like painting: one piece takes your fancy if you stand close to it, another if you keep at some distance." - Horace, full name Quintus Horatius Flaccus NULL

"Poetry is the breath of beauty." - James Henry Leigh Hunt

"Poetry is not a civilizer, rather the reverse, for great poetry appeals to the most primitive instincts... It is a beautiful work of nature, like an eagle or a high sunrise." - Robinson Jeffers, fully John Robinson Jeffers

"Poetry cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language." -

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

"When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of men's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his experience. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgment. The artist... faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an offensive state." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy