Karl Shapiro Quotes

Karl Jay Shapiro (November 10, 1913 – May 14, 2000) was an American poet. He was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1946.

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Karl Shapiro


The good poet sticks to his real loves, those within the realm of possibility. He never tries to hold hands with God or the human race.

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Lawyers love paper. They eat, sleep and dream paper. They turn paper into gold, and their files are colorful and their language neoclassical and calli-graphically bewigged.

Karl Shapiro


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Leo Connellan has retained his soul and voice in Provincetown and Other Poems.

Karl Shapiro


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The good poet sticks to his real loves, to see within the realm of possibility. He never tries to hold hands with God or the human race.

Karl Shapiro


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Haul up the flag, you mourners, Not half-mast but all the way; The funeral is done and disbanded; The devil's had the final say.

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The proverbist knows nothing of the two sides of a question. He knows only the roundness of answers.

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“Laughter and grief join hands. Always the heart Clumps in the breast with heavy stride; The face grows lined and wrinkled like a chart, The eyes bloodshot with tears and tide. Let the wind blow, for many a man shall die.”

Karl Shapiro


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“Already old, the question Who shall die? Becomes unspoken Who is innocent?”

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“In the tight belly of the dead, Burrow with hungry head, And inlay maggots like a jewel.”

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“We too are ashes as we watch and hear The psalm, the sorrow, and the simple praise, Of one whose promised thoughts of other days, Were such as ours, but now wholly destroyed, The service record of his youth wiped out, His dream dispersed by shot, must disappear.”

Karl Shapiro


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“Oh, it is I, Incredibly skinny, stooped, and neat as pie, Ignorant as dirt, erotic as an ape, Dreamy as puberty - with dirty hair!”

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“Lastly, his tomb shall list and founder in the troughs of grass. And none shall speak his name.”

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“Sunday at noon through hyaline thin air, Sees down the street, And in the camera of my eye depicts, Row-houses and row-lives: Glass after glass, door after door the same.”

Karl Shapiro


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“But this invites the occult mind, Cancels our physics with a sneer, And spatters all we knew of denouement,Across the expedient and wicked stones.”

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“But with exquisite breathing you smile, with satisfaction of love, And I touch you again as you tick in the silence and settle in sleep.”

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