It's hell writing and it's hell not writing. The only tolerable state is having just written.

— Robert Hass

The most interesting Robert Hass quotes that are guaranted to improve your brain

Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings, saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

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If you're imaginatively responsible to the place you live in, you understand the watershed.

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Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.

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The birds are silent in the woods. / Just wait: soon enough / You will be quiet too

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Once you figure out something about the watershed, you'll find out where the schools are going to hell, and the kids aren't learning, and there is no money. Social issues, class issues, and environmental issues were all connected.

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The Earth forgives the previous year every year.

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When I was in high school in the '50s you were supposed to be an Elvis Presley, a James Dean, a Marlon Brando or a Kingston Trio type in a button-down shirt headed for the fraternities at Stanford or Cal.

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Nostalgia locates desire in the past where it suffers no active conflict and can be yearned toward pleasantly.

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One may prefer spring and summer to autumn and winter, but preference is hardly to the point. The earth turns, and we live in the grain of nature, turning with it.

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Literature, the study of literature in English in the 19th century, did not belong to literary studies, which had to do with Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, but instead with elocution and public speaking. So when people read literature, it was to memorize and to recite it.

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Repetition makes us feel secure and variation makes us feel free.

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Sometimes from this hillside just after sunset The rim of the sky takes on a tinge Of the palest green, like the flesh of a cucumber When you peel it carefully.

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About Robert Hass

Quotes 105 sayings
Nationality American
Profession Poet
Birthday October 16

The poem that comes closest to saying what I think is the one in Human Wishes called "Rusia en 1931." This poem is about [Osip] Mandelstam, who was a great poet and an anti-Stalinist, and [Cesar] Vallejo, who was a great poet and a Stalinist.

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A movement got started for common schools, and by the end of the 19th century, 91 percent of Americans could read and write.

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There are instances: [Henry David] Thoreau read [John] Wordsworth, [John] Muir read Thoreau, Teddy Roosevelt read Muir, and you got national parks. It took a century for this to happen, for artistic values to percolate down to where honoring the relation of people's imagination to the land, or beauty, or to wild things, was issued in legislation.

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If you're going to get up to Walt Whitman and Robert Frost and Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath you've got to figure out how you put people in possession of their heritage. To do that you have to talk about how they're being taught, and the imagination of community the people who are running our government have.

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The thing I learned is that the work is getting done by people who dig in and work on a particular project: the people who spend 20 years sustaining a theater for black teenagers in Chicago; the people who reintroduce sticklebacks into Strawberry Creek in Berkeley and then wait patiently for the first egrets to show up.

1

What Simone Weil said politics has meant all along, which means that you fight for 11 percent, 12 percent, 13 percent, that you avoid golden-age thinking and romantic melancholy and you just keep pushing.

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When I began writing poems, it was in the late 60s and early 70s when the literary and cultural atmosphere was very much affected by what was going on in the world, which was, in succession, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, and the women's movement in the 60s, 70s, and into the early 80s. And all of those things affected me and affected my thinking, particularly the Vietnam War.

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Images are not quite ideas, they are stiller than that, with less implication outside themselves. And they are not myth, they do not have the explanatory power; they are nearer to pure story. Nor are they always metaphors; they do not say this is that, they say this is.

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Ko Un is a crucial poet for the twenty-first century, and this is an enormously fresh and vivid translation.

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The market doesn't make communities. Markets make networks of self-interested individuals, and they work as long as there's more than enough to go around.

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They are the kinds of things that make us a community: attachment to place, attachment to local arts traditions, the ability to read literature, the ability to look at paintings, the sense of connectedness to the land, the sense of community that comes from people taking care of their own.

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I am talking about poetry. It's like that line from [John] Yeats: I go back to "where all the ladders start/ In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart."

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[Osip] Mandelstam, who wasn't a political thinker, loved the idea of the city-state. One of the emblems in his poetry of the politics he imagined, over and against the universalizing politics of [Carl] Marx, was the medieval city of Novgorod, which had in its center a public well where the water was free to everyone. That became for him a figure of justice.

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The record of poetry in the 20th century isn't all that great anyway.

Most of the poets who weren't fascists were Stalinists.

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It was one of the great mass achievements of American civilization, and we did it because we thought if you were going to have a democratic form of government, people had to be able to read and understand complicated ideas on their own.

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I got interested in the question of literacy because writers are always moaning about why more people don't read books. They long for the good old days when people read serious novels.

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I think that the job of poetry, its political job, is to refresh the idea of justice, which is going dead in us all the time.

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There's very little solid research on readership, yet people make pronouncements about it all the time.

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Fiction writers have their own world, and poets have their own world, and literary criticism has sort of passed over into cultural studies in the university, and so on. They seem more disconnected from each other than they did when I first began to write.

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If we want to have a two-class society and an unemployed, welfare-crippled lower class that has no access to equality and educational opportunity and no access to jobs and is resentful and furiously angry, we can have it - that's what we've been willing to pay for so far.

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Imagination runs through the places where we live like water.

We need both things-a living knowledge of the land and a live imagination of it and our place in it- if we are going to preserve it.

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[Cesar] Vallejo was at least metaphorically killed by fascist forces, in the sense that he wore himself out raising funds for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and got sick and died.

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When I applied to Stanford, I applied for graduate work in the PhD program, not to the creative writing program, mostly because though I had some vague ambition of becoming a writer and I was trying to write poems and essays and stories, I didn't feel like I was far enough along to submit work to some place and have it judged.

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Do poets have any insight into what's the right ratio? I doubt it, but I think that they can be awake to what the ends are.

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I thought it was irrelevant to talk about what a wonderful thing poetry was if you didn't teach people to read.

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All the new thinking is about loss, In this it resembles all the old thinking.

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It's the same with this idea of a literate public, and also of a democracy in which people have access to and really read the best books. It turns out that even when you create this kind of environment, maybe only 10 percent of the people want to read those books.

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What we usually find is that when people think they have a new idea or approach something for the first time, it is actually a recurrence of a line of thinking explored in the past.

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Haiku is an art that seems dedicated to making people pay attention to the preciousness and particularity of every moment of existence. I think that poetry can do that.

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I was aware that a quarter of the children in the country are born in poverty, and that the condition of public schools in California was disastrous.

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Poetry had in the hands of various people become a place for inconvenient knowledge insofar as it was a place for knowledge at all. But it was a place where you could talk about other kinds of experience than the official version.

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The professionalization of poetry, or the balkanization, has come out of the fact that when you apply to most creative writing programs, you have to choose your genre.

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As I started reading about it, I saw that at the beginning of the 19th century, outside of New England - which was an unusually literate place - practically no one could read or write. And even in New England, the overall rate was only about 60 percent. That still means four out of 10 people couldn't put their name to a will.

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Longing, we say, because desire is full of endless distances.

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If you were making poetry out of convictions - trying to convince other people - you were in the territory of rhetoric, and that wasn't the territory of poetry. I think that's pretty smart. I think that it doesn't need to be altogether true, but that was my starting place.

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Justice is the well water of the city of Novgorod, black and sweet.

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When I came into the job, funding for the humanities at the federal level was being drastically cut. This was the high tide of the new Republican Congress.

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