The lunatic, the lover and the poet


The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
are of imagination all compact.
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold—
that is the madman. The lover, all as frantic,
sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.
And as imagination bodies forth
the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
a local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
that if it would but apprehend some joy,
it comprehends some bringer of that joy.

William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act Five Scene One. 

Quote – Marcel Proust

“The tyranny of rhyme forces the poet to the discovery of his finest lines.”


Quote – Arthur Symonds

“The death of Ernest Dowson will mean very little to the world at large, but it will mean a great deal to the few people who care passionately for poetry. A little book of verses, the manuscript of another, a one-act play in verse, a few short stories, two novels written in collaboration, some translations from the French, done for money; that is all that was left by a man who was undoubtedly a man of genius, not a great poet, but a poet, one of the very few writers of our generation to whom that name can be applied in its most intimate sense.

People will complain, probably, in his verses, of what will seem to them the factitious melancholy, the factitious idealism, and (peeping through at a few rare moments) the factitious suggestions of riot. They will see only a literary affectation, where in truth there is as genuine a note of personal sincerity as in the more explicit and arranged confessions of less admirable poets.

Yes, in these few evasive, immaterial snatches of song, I find, implied for the most part, hidden away like a secret, all the fever and turmoil and the unattained dreams of a life which had itself so much of the swift, disastrous, and suicidal impetus of genius.”


Quote – John Maynard Keynes

[Capitalism amounts to] “the astonishing belief that the nastiest of motives of the nastiest of men will somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.”


Quote – Clive James

“At a time when almost everyone writes poetry but scarcely anyone can write a poem, it is hard not to wish for a return to some less accommodating era, when the status of a ‘poet’ was not so easily aspired to, and the only hankering was to get something said in a memorable form. Alas we would have to go a long way back.”


Quote – F. R. Leavis

[The poet] “is unusually sensitive, unusually aware, more sincere and more himself than the ordinary man can be….He is a poet because his interest in his experience is not separable from his interest in words.”