Quotes Categories

Joseph Brodsky Quotes

(1940), Russian-born American Poet, Critic

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

Category: Books And Reading

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

Category: Cities And City Life

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

Category: Consciousness

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even -- if you will -- eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with.

Category: Evil

It would be enough for me to have the system of a jury of twelve versus the system of one judge as a basis for preferring the U.S. to the Soviet Union. I would prefer the country you can leave to the country you cannot.

Category: Exile

How delightful to find a friend in everyone.

Category: Friends And Friendship

The poetic notion of infinity is far greater than that which is sponsored by any creed.

Category: Infinity

What should I say about life? That it's long and abhors transparence.

Category: Life And Living

In the works of the better poets you get the sensation that they're not talking to people any more, or to some seraphical creature. What they're doing is simply talking back to the language itself --as beauty, sensuality, wisdom, irony --those aspects of language of which the poet is a clear mirror. Poetry is not an art or a branch of art, it's something more. If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological, indeed genetic, goal. Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a ''read,'' commits an anthropological crime, in the first place, against himself.

Category: Poetry And Poets

If a poet has any obligation toward society, it is to write well. Being in the minority, he has no other choice. Failing this duty, he sinks into oblivion. Society, on the other hand, has no obligation toward the poet. A majority by definition, society thinks of itself as having other options than reading verses, no matter how well written. Its failure to do so results in its sinking to that level of locution at which society falls easy prey to a demagogue or a tyrant. This is society's own equivalent of oblivion.

Category: Poetry And Poets

Racism? But isn't it only a form of misanthropy?

Category: Race And Racism

After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life.

Category: Work

Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.

Category: Writers And Writing