Quotes by Joseph Brodsky

I am no parasite.
- Joseph Brodsky
Man is what he reads.
- Joseph Brodsky
Venice is eternity itself.
- Joseph Brodsky
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Bad politics make for bad morals.
- Joseph Brodsky
Time can be an enemy or a friend.
- Joseph Brodsky
Literature invents its own rules.
- Joseph Brodsky
Bad literature is a form of treason.
- Joseph Brodsky
Life has a great deal up its sleeve.
- Joseph Brodsky
How delightful to find a friend in everyone.
- Joseph Brodsky
Snobbery? But it's only a form of despair.
- Joseph Brodsky
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One belongs to one's language as a writer.
- Joseph Brodsky
Art is a spirit seeking flesh but finding words.
- Joseph Brodsky
The literature from which I come is rather large.
- Joseph Brodsky
Who included me among the ranks of the human race?
- Joseph Brodsky
The career of an esthete was nothing I ever intended.
- Joseph Brodsky
You cannot cover a ruin with a page of 'Pravda.'
- Joseph Brodsky
Tyranny will make an entire population into readers of poetry.
- Joseph Brodsky
Any dispute in matters of taste usually results in a standoff.
- Joseph Brodsky
The imprisoning of a writer is the same as the burning of a book.
- Joseph Brodsky
A language is a more ancient and inevitable thing than any state.
- Joseph Brodsky
Poetry is not an art or a branch of art: it's something more.
- Joseph Brodsky
English is the only interesting thing that's left in my life.
- Joseph Brodsky
The real history of consciousness starts with one's first lie.
- Joseph Brodsky
A writer is a tool of the language rather than the other way around.
- Joseph Brodsky
It is well to read everything of something, and something of everything.
- Joseph Brodsky
After the last line of a poem, nothing follows except literary criticism.
- Joseph Brodsky
This is the generation whose first cry of life was the Hungarian uprising.
- Joseph Brodsky
Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.
- Joseph Brodsky
For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.
- Joseph Brodsky
Paperbacks of those we deem classics should be cheap and sold at supermarkets.
- Joseph Brodsky
I always adhered to the idea that God is time, or at least that His spirit is.
- Joseph Brodsky
Unlike a state, a writer cannot plead the historical necessity of his actions.
- Joseph Brodsky
I am a patriot, but I must say that English poetry is the richest in the world.
- Joseph Brodsky
I had been imprisoned three times and had twice been incarcerated in a madhouse.
- Joseph Brodsky
American poetry to me is a sort of relentless, nonstop sermon on human autonomy.
- Joseph Brodsky
Although I am losing my Soviet citizenship, I do not cease to be a Russian poet.
- Joseph Brodsky
What provides you with subject matter is your own language - and that's all.
- Joseph Brodsky
What your foes do derives its significance or consequence from the way you react.
- Joseph Brodsky
Poems, novels - these things belong to the nation, to the culture, and the people.
- Joseph Brodsky
I am neither an Occidental writer nor a Russian writer. I am an accidental writer.
- Joseph Brodsky
In the 20th century, imprisonment of writers practically comes with the territory.
- Joseph Brodsky
Once I stop being a citizen of the U.S.S.R., I will not stop being a Russian poet.
- Joseph Brodsky
I remember rather little of my life, and what I do remember is of small consequence.
- Joseph Brodsky
I'm no parasite. I'm a poet who will bring honor and glory to his country.
- Joseph Brodsky
Poetry is rather an approach to things, to life, than it is typographical production.
- Joseph Brodsky
My intention is to write poems. That's what I've been doing most of my life.
- Joseph Brodsky
What I like about cities is that everything is king size, the beauty and the ugliness.
- Joseph Brodsky
The poetic notion of infinity is far greater than that which is sponsored by any creed.
- Joseph Brodsky
Poetry seems to be the only weapon able to beat language, using language's own means.
- Joseph Brodsky
I was fortunate enough to write about things I really love, and love can be very analytic.
- Joseph Brodsky
Poetry isn't just different from prose, it's more important for the human species.
- Joseph Brodsky
Life - the way it really is - is a battle not between Bad and Good but between Bad and Worse.
- Joseph Brodsky
A writer is defined by the language in which he writes, and I would stick to that definition.
- Joseph Brodsky
One who writes a poem writes it because the language prompts, or simply dictates, the next line.
- Joseph Brodsky
Good style in prose is always hostage to the precision, speed, and laconic intensity of poetic diction.
- Joseph Brodsky
To translate poetry, one has to possess some art, at the very least the art of stylistic re-embodiment.
- Joseph Brodsky
Prison is essentially a shortage of space made up for by a surplus of time; to an inmate, both are palpable.
- Joseph Brodsky
A writer is seldom satisfied with the condition he finds himself in. We're all given to fretting a lot.
- Joseph Brodsky
A writer should care about one thing - the language. To write well - that is his duty. That is his only duty.
- Joseph Brodsky
It's a maddening thing in itself to look at an old poem of yours. To translate it is even more maddening.
- Joseph Brodsky
Translation is not original creation - that is what one must remember. In translation, some loss is inevitable.
- Joseph Brodsky
Unfortunately, a human being is able to comprehend only that amount of evil which he is able to commit himself.
- Joseph Brodsky
Bookstores should be located not only on campuses or on main drags, but at the assembly plant's gates, also.
- Joseph Brodsky
I belong to Russian literature, but I am an American citizen, and I think it's the best possible combination.
- Joseph Brodsky
One always pulls the trigger out of self-interest and quotes history to avoid responsibility or pangs of conscience.
- Joseph Brodsky
An ethical man doesn't need a consensus of his allies in order to act against something he finds reprehensible.
- Joseph Brodsky
Unlike life, a work of art never gets taken for granted: it is always viewed against its precursors and predecessors.
- Joseph Brodsky
Contrary to popular belief, the outskirts are not where the world ends - they are precisely where it begins to unfurl.
- Joseph Brodsky
People who buy 'The National Enquirer' would buy poetry. They should be given a choice. I'm absolutely serious.
- Joseph Brodsky
Neither as a writer nor, moreover, as a leader of a nation should you use terminology that obscures the reality of human evil.
- Joseph Brodsky
After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life.
- Joseph Brodsky
I started to write when I was eighteen or nineteen. However, until I was about twenty-three, I didn't take it that seriously.
- Joseph Brodsky
I like the idea of isolation. I like the reality of it. You realize what you are... not that the knowledge is inevitably rewarding.
- Joseph Brodsky
I'm the happiest combination you can think of. I'm a Russian poet, an English essayist, and a citizen of the United States.
- Joseph Brodsky
For some odd reason, the expression 'death of a poet' always sounds somewhat more concrete than 'life of a poet.'
- Joseph Brodsky
Yevtushenko is a high member of his country's establishment, and he lies terribly about the United States to his Russian readers.
- Joseph Brodsky
Weaknesses have a certain function in a poem... some strategy in order to pave the reader's way to the impact of this or that line.
- Joseph Brodsky
By and large, prisons are survivable, though hope is indeed what you need least upon entering here; a lump of sugar would be more useful.
- Joseph Brodsky
Prison is, indeed, a translation of your metaphysics, ethics, sense of history and whatnot into the compact terms of your daily deportment.
- Joseph Brodsky
Anyone who regards poetry as an entertainment, as a 'read,' commits an anthropological crime, in the first place against himself.
- Joseph Brodsky
Whenever one pulls the trigger in order to rectify history's mistake, one lies. For history makes no mistakes, since it has no purpose.
- Joseph Brodsky
For the poet the credo or doctrine is not the point of arrival but is, on the contrary, the point of departure for the metaphysical journey.
- Joseph Brodsky
There is nothing odder than to apply an analytical device to a synthetic phenomenon: for instance, to write in English about a Russian poet.
- Joseph Brodsky
I wrote poems. That is my work. I am convinced... I believe that what I wrote will be useful to people not only now but in future generations.
- Joseph Brodsky
For boredom speaks the language of time, and it is to teach you the most valuable lesson of your life - the lesson of your utter insignificance.
- Joseph Brodsky
Every individual ought to know at least one poet from cover to cover: if not as a guide through the world, then as a yardstick for the language.
- Joseph Brodsky
Whoever it was who said that to philosophize is an exercise in dying was right in more ways than one, for by writing a book, nobody gets younger.
- Joseph Brodsky
Evil is a sucker for solidity. It always goes for big numbers, for confident granite, for ideological purity, for drilled armies and balanced sheets.
- Joseph Brodsky
American poetry is this country's greatest patrimony. It takes a stranger to see some things clearly. This is one of them, and I am that stranger.
- Joseph Brodsky
Prose is admittedly an art rooted in social intercourse, and a fiction writer is faster to find a common denominator with his cell mates than a poet is.
- Joseph Brodsky
To put it in plain language, Russia is that country where the name of a writer appears not on the cover of his book, but on the door of his prison cell.
- Joseph Brodsky
Whether by theft or by artistry or by conquest, when it comes to time, Venetians are the world's greatest experts. They bested time like no one else.
- Joseph Brodsky
Time is water, and the Venetians conquered both by building a city on water, and framed time with their canals. Or tamed time. Or fenced it in. Or caged it.
- Joseph Brodsky
For a head of state presiding over a ruined economy, an active army with its low wages is god-sent: All he's got to do is provide it with an objective.
- Joseph Brodsky
This assumption that the blue collar crowd is not supposed to read it, or a farmer in his overalls is not to read poetry, seems to be dangerous if not tragic.
- Joseph Brodsky
The one who writes a poem writes it above all because verse writing is an extraordinary accelerator of conscience, of thinking, of comprehending the universe.
- Joseph Brodsky
Reduced... to a crude formula, the Russian tragedy is precisely the tragedy of a society in which literature turned out to be the prerogative of the minority.
- Joseph Brodsky
If what distinguishes us from other species is speech, then poetry, which is the supreme linguistic operation, is our anthropological - indeed, genetic - goal.
- Joseph Brodsky
To put it mildly, nothing can be turned and worn inside out with greater ease than one's notion of social justice, public conscience, a better future, etc.
- Joseph Brodsky
I began to despise Lenin, even when I was in the first grade, not so much because of his political philosophy or practice... but because of his omnipresent images.
- Joseph Brodsky
Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those - in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed.
- Joseph Brodsky
Writers seem mesmerized by the state - the temporal entity. The word 'perestroika' is impressed somehow on our minds. But that is not the duty of a writer.
- Joseph Brodsky
With poets, the choice of words is invariably more telling than the story line; that's why the best of them dread the thought of their biographies being written.
- Joseph Brodsky
My poems getting published in Russia doesn't make me feel in any fashion, to tell you the truth. I'm not trying to be coy, but it doesn't tickle my ego.
- Joseph Brodsky
By writing... in the language of his society, a poet takes a large step toward it. It is society's job to meet him halfway, that is, to open his book and read it.
- Joseph Brodsky
I haven't shifted language. I'm writing in English because I like it. I'm a sucker for the language, but the good old poems I'm still writing in Russian.
- Joseph Brodsky
No man-made system is perfect, and the system of oppression is no exception. It is subject to fatigue, to cracks, which you are the likelier to discover the longer your term.
- Joseph Brodsky

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