I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.
It is a serious thing -- just to be alive -- on this fresh morning -- in this broken world.
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.
Words have not only a definition... but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.
Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it began as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth.
Instead of taking the reader by the hand and running him down the hill, I want to lead him into a house of many rooms, and leave him alone in each of them.
I would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place. Yet each has its own force.
I grew up in a confused house: too much unwanted attention or none at all.
Wasn't it Emerson who said, 'My life is for itself and not for a spectacle'? I have a happy, full, good life because I hold it private.
Writers must... take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems.
Sometimes breaking the rules is extending the rules.
I always feel that whatever isn't necessary shouldn't be in a poem.
I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now are -- they sort of tap dance through it.
I had a very dysfunctional family, and a very hard childhood. So I made a world out of words. And it was my salvation.
Apparently, I've been considered a recluse.
I've always wanted to write poems and nothing else.
My parents didn't care very much what I did, and that was probably a blessing.
It's very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down.
I have a notebook with me all the time, and I begin scribbling a few words. When things are going well, the walk does not get anywhere; I finally just stop and write.
I worked probably 25 years by myself, just writing and working, not trying to publish much, not giving readings.
People want poetry. They need poetry. They get it. They don't want fancy work.
One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear.
Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.
As a child, what captivated me was reading the poems myself and realizing that there was a world without material substance which was nevertheless as alive as any other.
My first two books are out of print and, okay, they can sleep there comfortably. It's early work, derivative work.
To find a new word that is accurate and different, you have to be alert for it.
I was very careful never to take an interesting job. If you have an interesting job, you get interested in it.
The woods that I loved as a child are entirely gone. The woods that I loved as a young adult are gone. The woods that most recently I walked in are not gone, but they're full of bicycle trails.
I very much wished not to be noticed, and to be left alone, and I sort of succeeded.
Writers sometimes give up what is most strange and wonderful about their writing -- soften their roughest edges -- to accommodate themselves toward a group response.
I'm going to die one day. I know it's coming for me, too. I'll be a mountain, I'll be a stone on the beach. I'll be nourishment.
If I've done my work well, I vanish completely from the scene. I believe it is invasive of the work when you know too much about the writer.
Almost anything is too much. I am trying in my poems to have the reader be the experiencer. I do not want to be there. It is not even a walk we take together.
Walks work for me. I enter some arena that is neither conscious or unconscious.
I think one thing is that prayer has become more useful, interesting, fruitful, and... almost involuntary in my life.
You can fool a lot of yourself but you can't fool the soul.
In college, you learn how to learn. Four years is not too much time to spend at that.
To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
I simply do not distinguish between work and play.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
I'd rather write about polar bears than people.
I worked privately, and sometimes I feel that might be better for poets than the kind of social workshop gathering. My school was the great poets: I read, and I read, and I read.
We all have a hungry heart, and one of the things we hunger for is happiness. So as much as I possibly could, I stayed where I was happy.
I consider myself kind of a reporter -- one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography. I never think of myself as a poet; I just get up and write.
So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing.
I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.
There were times over the years when life was not easy, but if you're working a few hours a day and you've got a good book to read, and you can go outside to the beach and dig for clams, you're okay.
There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It's duty.
My work is the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
To tell you the truth, I believe everything - tigers, trees, stones - are sentient in one way or another. You'd never catch me idly kicking a stone, for example.
There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But who wants easier?
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable.
We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
My work is the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird -- equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.