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What makes a good poem? How the hell can I write one? And even if I did - what's the point!?

All valid questions, particularly on National Poetry Day.

Luckily, it need'd fall to us to answer - the great poets themselves like chin-wagging about their craft almost as much as they did scribbling down verses.

So whether you're looking for advice, analysis, or even a good laugh, we've compiled the poetical musing for you. Enjoy.

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  • Lucille Clifton

    "I think that were beginning to remember that the first poets didn't come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, "Ahhh." That was the first poem."

  • William Wordsworth

    Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity.

  • Robert Graves

    "A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end."

  • W.H. Auden

    "A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true."

  • Percy Bysshe Shelley

    Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

  • S.T.Coleridge

    I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry

  • Leonard Cohen

    "Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash."

  • Henry David Thoreau

    Poetry is the only life got, the only work done, the only pure product and free labor of man, performed only when he has put all the world under his feet, and conquered the last of his foes.

  • Denis Diderot

    "Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild."

  • William Hazlitt

    'Poetry is the universal language which the heart holds with nature and itself'

  • G.K. Chesterton

    Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

  • Stephen Spender

    'Great poetry is always written by somebody straining to go beyond what he can do.'

  • Emily Dickinson

    'If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.'

  • Kenneth Rexroth

    I've had it with these cheap sons of bitches who claim they love poetry but never buy a book.

  • A. E. Housman

    I could no more define poetry than a terrier can define a rat.

  • John Keats

    "Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance."

  • Miguel de Cervantes

    Modesty is a virtue not often found among poets, for almost every one of them thinks himself the greatest in the world.

  • Dennis Gabor

    "Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them. "

  • Robert Frost

    "A poem begins with a lump in the throat."

  • Bob Dylan

    "You I am sure will forgive me for sincerely remarking that you might curb your magnanimity and be more of an artist, and 'load every rift' of your subject with ore."

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "Language is fossil poetry"

  • Edgar Allen Poe

    "Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words."

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    "Poetry: the best words in the best order."

  • Kahlil Gibran

    "Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary."

  • John Adams

    "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket."

  • Carl Sandburg

    Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.