Top 30 Joseph Brodsky Quotes

Life—the way it really is—is a battle not between good and bad, but between bad and worse


…in the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft.


… Now to die of griefwould mean, I’m afraid, to die belatedly, while latecomersare unwelcome, particularly in the future. …


There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.


The real history of consciousness starts with one’s first lie.


[T]he accumulation of things not spelled out, not properly articulated, may result in neurosis.


[T]he longer you stay skeptical, doubtful, intellectually uncomfortable, the better it is for you.


Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo.


Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.


For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.


I belong to the Russian language. As to the state, from my point of view, the measure of a writer’s patriotism is not oaths from a high platform, but how he writes in the language of the people among whom he lives.


What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness.


Who included me among the ranks of the human race?


It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.


If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological – indeed, genetic – goal.


Americans have been tremendously fortunate in poetry, regarding both the quantity and quality of poetry produced. Unfortunately, it remains in schools and universities; it is not widely distributed.


Poetry is rather an approach to things, to life, than it is typographical production.


Poetry seems to be the only weapon able to beat language, using language’s own means.


To translate poetry, one has to possess some art, at the very least the art of stylistic re-embodiment.


The more one reads poetry, the less tolerant one becomes of any sort of verbosity, be that in political or philosophical discourse, be that in history, social studies or the art of fiction.


This assumption that the blue collar crowd is not supposed to read it, or a farmer in his overalls is not to read poetry, seems to be dangerous if not tragic.


I am a patriot, but I must say that English poetry is the richest in the world.


Poetry is not an art or a branch of art: it’s something more.


Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a ‘read,’ commits an anthropological crime, in the first place against himself.


American poetry to me is a sort of relentless, nonstop sermon on human autonomy.


Tyranny will make an entire population into readers of poetry.


American poetry is this country’s greatest patrimony. It takes a stranger to see some things clearly. This is one of them, and I am that stranger.


Poetry isn’t just different from prose, it’s more important for the human species.


The charge frequently leveled against poetry – that it is difficult, obscure, hermetic and whatnot – indicates not the state of poetry but, frankly, the rung of the evolutionary ladder on which society is stuck.


People who buy ‘The National Enquirer’ would buy poetry. They should be given a choice. I’m absolutely serious.



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