The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.
History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.
You know there are no secrets in America. It’s quite different in England, where people think of a secret as a shared relation between two people.
It’s a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.
In relation to a writer, most readers believe in the Double Standard: they may be unfaithful to him as often as they like, but he must never, never be unfaithful to them.
The countenances of children, like those of animals, are masks, not faces, for they have not yet developed a significant profile of their own.
I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.
Every American poet feels that the whole responsibility for contemporary poetry has fallen upon his shoulders, that he is a literary aristocracy of one.
When I am in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.
Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting than any romance, however passionate.
When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a room full of dukes.
What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
In a world of prayer, we are all equal in the sense that each of us is a unique person, with a unique perspective on the world, a member of a class of one.
Choice of attention – to pay attention to this and ignore that – is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.
Hemingway is terribly limited. His technique is good for short stories, for people who meet once in a bar very late at night, but do not enter into relations. But not for the novel.
It takes little talent to see what lies under one’s nose, a good deal to know in what direction to point that organ.
Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.
Before people complain of the obscurity of modern poetry, they should first examine their consciences and ask themselves with how many people and on how many occasions they have genuinely and profoundly shared some experience with another.
Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.