Everything perfect in its kind has to transcend its own kind, it must become something different and incomparable. In some notes the nightingale is still a bird; then it rises above its class and seems to suggest to every winged creature what singing is truly like.
(Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832), German poet, dramatist. tr. 1988; Persea Books (1989). Elective Affinities, bk. 2, ch. 9, from Ottilie's Diary (1809).)
We never exchange more than three words with a Friend in our lives on that level to which our thoughts and feelings almost habitually rise.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 1, p. 281, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
It is true that genius takes its rise out of the mountains of rectitude; that all beauty and power which men covet are somehow born out of that Alpine district; that any extraordinary degree of beauty in man or woman involves a moral charm.
(Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Worship," The Conduct of Life (1860).)
Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem per se, the circumstance ... which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste.
(Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), U.S. author. "The Philosophy of Composition," Graham's Magazine (1846).
Disingenuously dismissing private motives.)
The chimney is to some extent an independent structure, standing on the ground, and rising through the house to the heavens; even after the house is burned it still stands sometimes, and its importance and independence are apparent.
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, p. 267, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
In case I conk out, this is provisionally what I have to do: I must clarify obscurities; I must make clearer definite ideas or dissociations. I must find a verbal formula to combat the rise of brutalitythe principle of order versus the split atom.
(Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Interview in Writers at Work, Second Series, ed. George Plimpton (1963).)