Conrad Aiken was born 5 August 1889 and died 17 August 1973
- One is least sure of one’s self, sometimes, when one is most positive.
- I think that what’s happening today, with all the young poets rushing from one college to another, lecturing at the drop of a hat and so on, is not too good; I think it might have a bad effect on a great many of the young poets. They – to quote Mark Twain – “swap juices” a little too much, so that they are in danger of losing their own identity and don’t give themselves time enough in which to work out what’s really of importance to them – they’re too busy.
- Forward into the untrodden! Courage, old man, and hold on to your umbrella!
- He whose first emotion, on the view of an excellent work, is to undervalue or depreciate it, will never have one of his own to show.
- I compelled myself all through to write an exercise in verse, in a different form, every day of the year. I turned out my page every day, of some sort–I mean I didn’t give a damn about the meaning, I just wanted to master the form–all the way from free verse, Walt Whitman, to the most elaborate of villanelles and ballad forms. Very good training. I’ve always told everybody who has ever come to me that I thought that was the first thing to do.
- I began by doing book reviews on the typewriter and then went over to short stories on the machine, meanwhile sticking to pencil for poetry.
- Oh, I’ve discarded a great many [poems]. And occasionally I’ve discarded and then resurrected. I would find a crumpled yellow ball of paper in the wastebasket, in the morning, and open it to see what the hell I’d been up to; and occasionally it was something that needed only a very slight change to be brought off, which I’d missed the day before.
Conrad Aiken was an American writer, whose work includes poetry, short stories, novels, a play, and an autobiography. He is the author of The House of Dust: A Symphony.
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