So this quest took longer; I had initially decided to make this all about quotable quotes to do with poetry (a couple of weeks ago!) and then forgot to make a note of it in my AtoZ spreadsheet. Then as the ‘Q’ day dawned and passed, I had forgotten all about ‘quotable quotes’ and some brainstorming led me to quarantine poems! And then the lightbulb came on, memories were refreshed, and this post – Quotable Quotes, Quarantine Quatrains etc.: A Quick Check This Out! – came into being.
This post contains Amazon and other affiliate links, that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Please see the full disclosure for more information. I only recommend products I would (or have already) use myself.
Quotable Quotes, Quarantine Quatrains etc.
The Quotable Quotes (About Poetry, of Course)
What Is Poetry?
This section includes quotes that well, state what poetry is…
“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”
~ Percy Shelley ~
“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
~ Leonard Cohen ~
“Poetry is a pack-sack of invisible keepsakes.”
~ Carl Sandburg ~
“Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement.”
~ Christopher Frey ~
“Poetry is prose, bent out of shape.”
~ J. Patrick Lewis ~
“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.”
~ Thomas Gray ~
“Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smokestacks, waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets.”
~ Carl Sandburg ~
“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.”
~ Kahlil Gibran ~
“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”
~ Emily Dickinson ~
“Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.”
~ Dylan Thomas ~
“Poetry: the best words in the best order.”
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~
“Poetry is life distilled.”
~ Gwendolyn Brooks ~
“Poetry is perfect verbs hunting for elusive nouns.”
~ J. Patrick Lewis ~
“Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.”
~ Marianne Moore ~
“Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.”
~ W.H. Auden ~
Quotable Quotes About Poems
“The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it.”
~ Dylan Thomas ~
“Poems of any length are inherently complete in themselves.”
~ Gulzar ~
“Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.”
~ Charles Simic ~
“A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words. Some poems took years to find their words.”
~ Robert Frost ~
About Poets & their Writing of Poems
“A poet is a painter of the soul.”
“I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.”
~ Wislawa Szymborska ~
“A poet should be so crafty with words that he is envied even for his pains.”
~ Criss Jami ~
“To find beauty in ugliness is the province of the poet.”
~ Thomas Hardy ~
“A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer. He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.”
~ E. B. White ~
“Poets aren’t very useful.
Because they aren’t consumeful or very produceful.”
~ Ogden Nash ~
“You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”
~ John Adams ~
“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.”
~ W. H. Auden ~
“The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.”
~ Jean Cocteau ~
“Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”
~ Virginia Woolf ~
“I need about one hundred fifty drafts of a poem to get it right, and fifty more to make it sound spontaneous.”
~ James Dickey ~
“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.”
Then the Rest
“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 ~
“I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.”
~ Steven Wright ~
“That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
~ N.H. Kleinbaum ~
“Poetry slips a silk dress over naked prose.”
~ James Lendall Basford ~
“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.”
~ Mark Strand ~
“The smell of ink is intoxicating to me – others may have wine, but I have poetry.”
~ Terri Guillemets ~
“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.”
~ James Gates Percival ~
Quarantine Quatrains, etc.
When I first came up with this title, I had Quirky Quips follow Quotable Quotes initially; that was replaced by Quarantine Poems; and then since I love alliteration, went looking for the poetic forms from Q and quatrains was the perfect fit to the word. To my delight (not surprise really), I found many quarantine quatrains online (one example is here).
Anyways, I am not planning to write a quatrain at all; and nor will I be sharing any more quatrains specifically. But here are a few quarantine poems I found and loved.
Quarantine by Eavan Boland
Here are the first two stanzas of “Quarantine” by Eavan Boland (1944 – 2020). You can read the poem in its entirety at Poets.org here.
In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking—they were both walking—north.
She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.
Lockdown by Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage is an English poet, playwright and novelist who was appointed Poet Laureate on 10 May 2019. His poem, Lockdown, written last year when lockdown first started in the UK, moves from the outbreak of bubonic plague in Eyam in the 17th century, when a bale of cloth from London brought fleas carrying the plague to the Derbyshire village, to the epic poem Meghadūta by the Sanskrit poet Kālidāsa.
Here are just the last two lines of his poem below. You can read the full poem over at The Guardian, or watch the video linked below to listen to it.
“the journey a ponderous one at times, long and slow
but necessarily so.“
This Poem Shared via Social Media That Soon Went Viral (sorry!)
This poem is called “First lines of emails I’ve received while quarantining.” pic.twitter.com/4keCqPaO63— Jessica Salfia, NBCT (@jessica_salfia) April 11, 2020
In the Time of Pandemic by Kitty O’Meara
And then there was this other viral poem that was even attributed to Irish poet Kathleen O’Meara in 1869! But no, this was written at the start of the first lockdown we had, in March 2020, by Kitty O’Meara. I am sure many of you have read the poem already, but here is the link to O’Meara’s post on her blog The Daily Round with the poem.
Below are the first two lines of her poem
And the people stayed home.
And they listened, and read books, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
More Quarantine Poems
Poems written by various poets over at AllPoetry
Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea
Title: Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea
Author: Nikki Giovanni
Length: 110 pages
Genre: Poetry by Women/Black and African American Poetry
Publisher: William Morrow (November 2002, first published Jan 2002)
Source: My copy
Description: A resonant collection of all new poems from one of America’s preeminent poets. Ever commanding, luminous, and controversial, Nikki Giovanni speaks truth to power on issues of social justice, racism, gender, violence, and justice.
I love reading Nikki Giovanni; I admit I have read but a few of her poems. However, with each one, I have fallen just a little bit more in love with the power of her words and her writing. Be it prose poems, or the rhythm of hip hop, or be it just any other way she puts down pen to paper, there is magic in them words!
And this book proves that magic all over again. Like the subtitle for this book says, this contains poems and not quite poems (which include prose-poems and lyrical mini-essays). The titular poem is amazing, maybe should be a #pocketpoem (though it is a long one, so maybe just a part of it for that poem in your pocket); or it could simply be framed.
While I must admit that I found myself partial to the poems more than the not-quite poems of this book, the messages contained in every piece in this collection conveys a powerful message to the reader.
Overall, a powerhouse of a book that covers a diverse range of topics: race and gender; social justice and violence; family and other people – historical figures like Aretha Franklin and MLK, and contemporary people and things – even Harry Potter; and more. Giovanni sprinkles her magical combination of sheer power, wit, wonderful insights, and frank observations across her words in this book.
Among the poems, it is hard for me to pick a favorite; of course, I loved the titular poem as I mentioned earlier, but I loved the others too. So here are a few lines from the last poem included in the book – The Song of the Feet
The first few lines go like this..
It is appropriate that I sing
The song of the feet
The weight of the body
And what the body chooses to bear
Fall on me
…. and then later
Jungled through Vietnam sweated out Desert Storm
….. and ends with
It is appropriate I sing
The praise of the feet
I am a Black woman
Like I said above, a powerhouse of a book! One that is sure to give readers pause and reflect, and bring about much needed conversations.
Get It Here
Related Reads and Other ‘Q’ Reads
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, as always, and always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions, as well as recommendations. Have you read the featured books or any similar reads?
The AtoZ Challenges
You can find all my A2Z Challenge Posts here.