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John Drinkwater Quotes





A lyric, it is true, is the expression of personal emotion, but then so is all poetry, and to suppose that there are several kinds of poetry, differing from each other in essence, is to be deceived by wholly artificial divisions which have no real being.
 

Any long work in which poetry is persistent, be it epic or drama or narrative, is really a succession of separate poetic experiences governed into a related whole by an energy distinct from that which evoked them.
 

But in the finished art of the song the use of words has no connection with the use of words in poetry.
 

For while the subjects of poetry are few and recurrent, the moods of man are infinitely various and unstable. It is the same in all arts.
 

Great men are rare, poets are rarer, but the great man who is a poet, transfiguring his greatness, is the rarest of all events.
 

If it is an imperfect word, no external circumstance can heighten its value as poetry.
 

It is commonly asserted and accepted that Paradise Lost is among the two or three greatest English poems; it may justly be taken as the type of supreme poetic achievement in our literature.
 

It should here be added that poetry habitually takes the form of verse.
 

Poe's saying that a long poem is a sequence of short ones is perfectly just.
 

Poetry being the sign of that which all men desire, even though the desire be unconscious, intensity of life or completeness of experience, the universality of its appeal is a matter of course.
 

Poetry is the communication through words of certain experiences that can be communicated in no other way.
 

So it is in poetry. All we ask is that the mood recorded shall impress us as having been of the kind that exhausts the imaginative capacity; if it fails to do this the failure will announce itself either in prose or in insignificant verse.
 

The musician - if he be a good one - finds his own perception prompted by the poet's perception, and he translates the expression of that perception from the terms of poetry into the terms of music.
 

The poet's perfect expression is the token of a perfect experience; what he says in the best possible way he has felt in the best possible way, that is, completely.
 

The written word is everything.
 

There can be no proof that Blake's lyric is composed of the best words in the best order; only a conviction, accepted by our knowledge and judgment, that it is so.
 

To know anything of a poet but his poetry is, so far as the poetry is concerned, to know something that may be entertaining, even delightful, but is certainly inessential.
 

To take an analogy: if we say that a democratic government is the best kind of government, we mean that it most completely fulfills the highest function of a government - the realisation of the will of the people.
 

We recognise in the finished art, which is the result of these conditions, the best words in the best order - poetry; and to put this essential poetry into different classes is impossible.
 

When the poet makes his perfect selection of a word, he is endowing the word with life.