“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
“When the litters are overturned by the whirlwind
and faces are covered by cloaks,
the new republic will be troubled by its people.
At this time the reds and the whites will rule wrongly.
Alas, how we will see a great nation sorely troubled
and the holy law in utter ruin.
Christianity governed throughout by other laws,
when a new source of gold and silver is discovered.
The false trumpet concealing madness
will cause Byzantium to change its laws.
From Egypt there will go forth a man who wants
the edict withdrawn, changing money and standards.
The trumpet shakes with great discord.
An agreement broken: lifting the face to heaven:
the bloody mouth will swim with blood;
the face anointed with milk and honey lies on the ground.”
–Nostradamus, 16th Century
“All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’”
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
“I’m a great believer in poetry out of the classroom, in public places, on subways, trains, on cocktail napkins. I’d rather have my poems on the subway than around the seminar table at an MFA program.”
“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”
“Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.”
“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.”
“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”
“Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.”
“When I began to listen to poetry, it’s when I began to listen to the stones, and I began to listen to what the clouds had to say, and I began to listen to other. And I think, most importantly for all of us, then you begin to learn to listen to the soul, the soul of yourself in here, which is also the soul of everyone else.”
“There’s a reason poets often say, ‘Poetry saved my life,’ for often the blank page is the only one listening to the soul’s suffering, the only one registering the story completely, the only one receiving all softly and without condemnation.”
—Clarissa Pinkola Estes
“You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.”
—Carol Ann Duffy
“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.”
Compiled by the Poet Tree of Discoursing Drums in collaboration with the By Any Dreams Necessary Collective.