A Poetry Handbook Quotes.

1. "Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

2. "The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers--has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

3. "Invention hovers always a little above the rules."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

4. "The language of the poem is the language of particulars."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

5. "It is no use thinking that writing of poems – the actual writing – can accommodate itself to a social setting, even the most sympathetic social setting of a workshop composed of friends. It cannot. The work improves there and often the will to work gets valuable nourishment and ideas. But, for good reasons, the poem requires of the writer not society or instruction, but a patch of profound and unbroken solitude."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

6. "But very little of it can do more than start you on your way to the real, unimaginably difficult goal of writing memorably. That work is done slowly and in solitude, and it is as improbable as carrying water in a sieve."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

7. "To be contemporary is to rise through the stack of the past, like the fire through the mountain. Only a heat so deeply and intelligently born can carry a new idea into the air."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

8. "The subjects that stir the heart are not so many, after all, and they do not change."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

9. "I cherish two sentences and keep them close to my desk. The first is by Flaubert. I came upon it among Van Gough's letters. It says, simply, 'Talent is long patience, and originality an effort of will and of intense observation."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

10. "...from Emerson's journals. In the context, it is written in the past tense; changing the verb to present tense it reads: The poem is a confession of faith. Which is to say, the poem is not an exercise. It is not 'wordplay.' Whatever skill or beauty it has, in contains something beyond language devices, and has a purpose other than itself."
- Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

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