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A Working Theory of Poetics Expressed in Quotations of the Wise
by +Steven Curtis Lance   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Posted: Thursday, March 09, 2006

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"Poetry, as everybody with a lick of sense knows, is utterly inexplicable."

Still, although I cannot begin to explain this art I love so well and to which I give my life, I have saved this little treasure-trove of quotations which, I believe, shed light on a working theory of poetics, a working theory by which I work in any case.

I hope somebody might enjoy these words from those far wiser than I am, and that they might prove helpful to you, as they have to me.

Respect and solidarity,


A Working Theory of Poetics Expressed in Quotations of the Wise

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James (1843-1916) American Author

"When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like shipwreck; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless." - Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947) American Novelist

"Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." - Marianne Williamson (1952~) American Author, Lecturer

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet, Essayist

"If you want to be happy, be." - Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) [Count Lev Tolstoi] Russian Novelist, Moral Philosopher, Mystic

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina nor softened the fibre of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 32nd U.S. President (1933-45)

"I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn." - John Wesley (1703-1791) English Preacher, Founder of Methodism

"Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) German Poet, Dramatist, Novelist

"Crimes of which a people is ashamed constitute its real history. The same is true of man." - Jean Genet (1910-1986) French Playwright, Novelist

"Whereas it has long been known and declared that the poor have no right to the property of the rich, I wish it also to be known and declared that the rich have no right to the property of the poor." - John Ruskin (1819-1900) English Writer, Art Critic

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) 35th U.S. President (1961-63)

"Some of us might find happiness if we would quit struggling so desperately for it." - William Feather (1889-1981) American Publisher, Author

"There is no reality, but the one contained within." - Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss Novelist, Poet

"If we discovered that we had only five minutes left to say all that we wanted to say, every telephone booth would be occupied by people calling other people to stammer that they loved them." - Christopher Darlington Morley (1890-1957) American Author, Journalist

"Love conquers everything [Amor vincit omnia]: let us, too, yield to love." - Virgil (70-19BC) [Publius Virgilius Maro Vergil] Roman Epic Poet

"True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. [Maxims]" - Francois De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) French Classical Writer, Moralist

"The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough." - Sir Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Bengali Poet, Novelist, Composer

"Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire." - Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) Argentinean Author

"Time goes, you say? Ah, no! Alas, Time stays, we go." - Austin Dobson (1840-1921) English Author

"For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American Poet

"Wisdom begins in wonder." - Socrates (469-399BC) Greek Philosopher of Athens

"Nothing that is God's is obtainable by money." - Tertullian (160-240) Roman Christian Author, Polemicist

"Of course, it all depends upon what we are praying for. If we are whimpering, and sniveling, and begging to be spared the discipline of life that is sent to knock some smatterings of manhood into us, the answer to that prayer may never come at all. Thank God! - If you are not bleating to get off, but asking to be given grace and strength to see this through with honour, 'the very day' you pray that prayer, the answer always comes." - A. J. Gossip (1873-1954) Scottish Theologian, Preacher

"The World is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything." - Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born American Physicist

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." - Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet, Essayist

"Critics are those who have failed in literature and art." - Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English Statesman, Author, Prime Minister (1868, 1874-80)

"You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it." - Neil Richard Gaiman (1960~) British Author

"The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business." - John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American Author

"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, 'patriotism' is defined as the last resort of the scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first." - Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913) American Author, Editor, Journalist

"All grand thoughts come from the heart." - Marquis De Vauvenargues (1715-1747) French Soldier, Moralist

"Make me immortal with a kiss." - Christopher Marlowe (1565-1593) English Dramatist, Poet

"Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always." - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian Epic Poet, Philosopher

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Reviewed by Bill Brent 5/5/2007
This is a lovely page, Steven. Thanks for putting it out there.

My problem with Goethe is that often his thinking is absolutist. You need to allow for the outliers. Outliers change the world.

Wishing you peace today,

--Bill Brent
Reviewed by Safi Abdi 7/5/2006
Steven, You have collected much food for thought here, if man could only stop for a few minutes everyday, and just ponder and think about why he is here, I think the world would be a much better place. If we all saw today as our last day we would definitely be making phone calls all of us.

Indeed, as the Prophet Muhammad said (would appreciate if you could add that to your wisdom-collection):

'The truest words spoken by any poet are those of Labid: "Know that everything is vanity save God."'

Thank you!

Reviewed by m j hollingshead 3/13/2006
enjoyed the read
Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 3/9/2006
Thank you for reminding us of these great words of wisdom, including your own...
Reviewed by Leland Waldrip 3/9/2006
Enjoyed much! Thanks,
Reviewed by Felix Perry 3/9/2006
Wise words from a lot of very wise people, thank you for sharing Steve.

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