Wallace Stevens
Quotations


Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.

A diary is more or less the work of a man of clay whose hands are clumsy and in whose eyes there is no light.

If some really acute observer made as much of egotism as Freud has made of sex, people would forget a good deal about sex and find the explanation for everything in egotism.

In European thought in general, as contrasted with American, vigor, life and originality have a kind of easy, professional utterance. American -- on the other hand, is expressed in an eager amateurish way. A European gives a sense of scope, of survey, of consideration. An American is strained, sensational. One is artistic gold; the other is bullion.

Democritus plucked his eye out because he could not look at a woman without thinking of her as a woman. If he had read a few of our novels, he would have torn himself to pieces.

To regard the imagination as metaphysics is to think of it as part of life, and to think of it as part of life is to realize the extent of artifice. We live in the mind.

The imagination is man’s power over nature.

Nothing could be more inappropriate to American literature than its English source since the Americans are not British in sensibility.

The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence.

If poetry should address itself to the same needs and aspirations, the same hopes and fears, to which the Bible addresses itself, it might rival it in distribution.

The genuine artist is never “true to life.” He sees what is real, but not as we are normally aware of it. We do not go storming through life like actors in a play. Art is never real life.

What our eyes behold may well be the text of life but one’s meditations on the text and the disclosures of these meditations are no less a part of the structure of reality.

Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!

Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.

The day of the sun is like the day of a king. It is a promenade in the morning, a sitting on the throne at noon, a pageant in the evening.

It is the unknown that excites the ardor of scholars, who, in the known alone, would shrivel up with boredom.

To be young is all there is in the world. The rest is nonsense -- and cant. They talk so beautifully about work and having a family and a home (and I do, too, sometimes) -- but it’s all worry and head-aches and respectable poverty and forced gushing. . . . Telling people how nice it is, when, in reality, you would give all of your last thirty years for one of your first thirty. Old people are tremendous frauds.



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