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A Poet's Music & Truth
(Liars & Lyres)
The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. ~Jean Cocteau
[T]he poetic soul... a living lyre, it only lives enough to echo, and all that it has of life it pours out, and spends in song: the inspiring tripod which the poet ascends, at once unites him to, and separates him from, society. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
For Nabokov, poet and liar have an innate affinity. Without the liar's imagination and powers of invention, without his willingness to disregard the facts in search of certain effects, poetry would not exist... ~Louise H. Pratt, Lying and Poetry from Homer to Pindar, 1993
To what good, to what avail did fate desire
that I be made a poet, though I be weak?
Vain are my words; the sounds of my lyre
are not true, even those most sweet...
You are no liar, poet. The world you see
is the true one. Only your lyre's chords
recognize what's true, and only they
toward that life will be your trusty guides...
~C.P. Cavafy (Greek poet, 1863–1933), "The Poet and the Muse," translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, 2009
It has even come to be said, in vulgar joke, that poets are apt to play the liar (lyre). But even when the term was synonymous with fable and romance — poetry, with inherent dignity, yet advanced her claims, and from the entire world received homage and worship. ~"On the Esoteric Meaning of Homer's Odyssey," 1860
Lyres are placid in the hands of poets; but the true lyre is the poet himself. ~Alexandre Vinet (1797–1847)
But she remembers thee as one
Long loved, and for a season gone;
For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed,
Her marble wrought, her music breathed...
~Fitz Greene Halleck, "Marco Bozzaris"
Why hurl reproof and not applause,
Why on the poet's lyre make wars,
And seek to hush his tuneful string
By criticism's poisoned sting?
Sing on, ye poets, spite of faults,
The world will stop when music halts,
For harmony makes all things strong,
Stars in their courses poet's song.
~Pattie French Witherspoon (1868–1934), "To the Silent Lyre"
Like Lord Byron, Lady Adeline is a poet-chameleon, a liar with a lyre. ~Peter W. Graham, "His Grand Show: Byron and the Myth of Mythmaking"
Last saved 2022 Jun 19 Sun 21:08 PDT