A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary greatly in different cultures and time periods. Throughout each civilization and language, poets have used various styles that have changed through the course of literary history, resulting in a history of poets as diverse as the literature they have produced.
The English word "poet" is derived from the French poète, itself descended from the Latin first-declension masculine noun poeta, meaning "poet". The word "poetry" derives from the Latin feminine noun poetria, meaning not "poetry" but "poetess".
French poet Arthur Rimbaud summarized the "poet" by writing,
A poet makes himself a visionary through a long, boundless, and systematized disorganization of all the senses. All forms of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he exhausts within himself all poisons, and preserves their quintessences. Unspeakable torment, where he will need the greatest faith, a superhuman strength, where he becomes all men: the great invalid, the great criminal, the great accursed—and the Supreme Scientist! For he attains the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone! He attains the unknown, and, if demented, he finally loses the understanding of his visions, he will at least have seen them! So what if he is destroyed in his ecstatic flight through things unheard of, unnameable: other horrible workers will come; they will begin at the horizons where the first one has fallen!
Although that is only one opinion of many on a poet's definition.
William Wordsworth once described the poet's task as to
make A present joy the matter of a song, Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains That would not be forgotten and are here Recorded
(The Prelude Book 1)
Marianne Moore famously described the poet's job as creating "imaginary gardens with real toads in them".(Poetry)
Many poets such as Virgil in the Aeneid and John Milton in Paradise Lost invoke the aid of a Muse to help them in their tasks.
Famous quotes containing the word poet:
“The great poet makes us feel our own wealth, and then we think less of his compositions. His best communication to our mind is to teach us to despise all he has done.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“The poet is a man who lives at last by watching his moods. An old poet comes at last to watch his moods as narrowly as a cat does a mouse.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“The spiritual kinship between Lincoln and Whitman was founded upon their Americanism, their essential Westernism. Whitman had grown up without much formal education; Lincoln had scarcely any education. One had become the notable poet of the day; one the orator of the Gettsyburg Address. It was inevitable that Whitman as a poet should turn with a feeling of kinship to Lincoln, and even without any association or contact feel that Lincoln was his.”
—Edgar Lee Masters (18691950)