- The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence.
- The imagination is man's power over nature.
- 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.
- The poet is the priest of the invisible.
- They said, You have a blue guitar, you do not play things as they are. The man replied, Things as they are changed upon a blue guitar.
- 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.
- To be young is all there is in the world. 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.
- Nothing could be more inappropriate to American literature than its English source since the Americans are not British in sensibility.
- Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise!
- Perhaps it is of more value to infuriate philosophers than to go along with them.
- How has the human spirit ever survived the terrific literature with which it has had to contend?
- All the great things have been denied and we live in an intricacy of new and local mythologies, political, economic, poetic, which are asserted with an ever-enlarging incoherence.
- As life grows more terrible, its literature grows more terrible.
- 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.
- Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.
- How full of trifles everything is! It is only one's thoughts that fill a room with something more than furniture.
- One cannot spend one's time in being modern when there are so many more important things to be.
- I can't make head or tail of Life. Love is a fine thing, Art is a fine thing, Nature is a fine thing; but the average human mind and spirit are confusing beyond measure. Sometimes I think that all our learning is the little learning of the maxim. To laugh at a Roman awe-stricken in a sacred grove is to laugh at something today.
- 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.
- Civilization must be destroyed. The hairy saints of the North have earned this crumb by their complaints.
- Union of the weakest develops strength not wisdom. Can all men, together, avenge one of the leaves that have fallen in autumn? But the wise man avenges by building his city in snow.
- It is the unknown that excites the ardor of scholars, who, in the known alone, would shrivel up with boredom.
- Thought is an infection. In the case of certain thoughts, it becomes an epidemic.
- Most modern reproducers of life, even including the camera, really repudiate it. We gulp down evil, choke at good.
- Intolerance respecting other people's religion is toleration itself in comparison with intolerance respecting other people's art.
- 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 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.
- Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.
- 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.
Wallace Stevens was an American Modernist poet. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, educated at Harvard and then New York Law School, and he spent most of his life working as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his Collected Poems in 1955.
Some of his best-known poems include "Anecdote of the Jar", "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock", "The Emperor of Ice-Cream", "The Idea of Order at Key West", "Sunday Morning", "The Snow Man", and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."