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arts quote

Arts Quotes: Confucius
"Let a man be stimulated by poetry, established by the rules of propriety, and perfected by music."
China, Folklore, Poetry, Music

arts quote

Arts Quotes: S.T. Coleridge
"How inimitably graceful children are in general -- before they learn to dance."
Poetry, Literature, Dance

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Maya Angelou
"Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances."
Literature, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Charles Baudelaire
"Genius is childhood recalled at will."
Literature, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Charles Baudelaire
"Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals."
Dance, Europe, Literature, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: W.H. Auden
"Dance till the stars come down from the rafters. Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop."
Dance, Literature, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Berthold Auerbach
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
Music, Literature, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Robert Frost
"If you are looking for something to be brave about consider fine arts."
America, Poetry

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Anatole France
"To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything."
Europe, Poetry, Literature

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Günter Grass
"Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same."
Europe, Literature, Poetry

Francis Scott Key standing on ship

Arts Days: September 14, 1814: O Say Can You Sing?
Key was watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore by the British when he wrote a poem he called “Defence of Fort McHenry.” An important battle in the War of 1812 was raging, and Key was among those aboard American ships in the Chesapeake Bay. Rockets rained down all night on the fort, and Key wondered whose flag would be flying in the morning light.

Imagine his relief to see that “Star-Spangled Banner” waving above the fort the next day—tattered but proud. The poem was set to an existing tune and printed in several newspapers. It became very popular and was often played at public events. In 1931, President Hoover signed a law designating the song as our national anthem.
America, History, Military, Music, Poetry

John Milton

Arts Days: December 09, 1608: A Man of Letters
John Milton is best known for penning Paradise Lost, a really long poem published in the mid 17th century. How long you ask? So long it filled ten books; a second edition published a few years later filled 12 books. In this epic work, Milton explores man’s fall from grace as told in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve. In his version, he incorporates elements from Greek classicism, paganism, and other areas of study.

Milton was a learned man with a broad range of interests, and he wrote about other things, too, like history, travel, marriage, censorship, you name it. Late in life, Milton lost his eyesight completely, but never his rigorous intellect and deep curiosity. He is generally considered the greatest English poet after Shakespeare.
Europe, Poetry, Literature, Controversial

Emily Dickinson

Arts Days: December 10, 1830: The Belle of Amherst
All the time she spent alone helped Emily Dickinson create some of the literary world’s most elegant and haunting poetry. As a girl, she attended school in nearby South Hadley, but was so homesick she dropped out and moved home. While she seldom entertained guests, she read widely and wrote tons of letters and poems—words that give us a glimpse into the workings of her heart and soul.

It was not until after her death in 1886 that her poems were published. Works such as “A bird came down the walk” and “Her final summer” (Dickinson almost never gave her poems titles, so they are generally referred to by their first lines), reveal her capacity for deep intellectual thought as well as an abiding love of nature.
Poetry, Nature

Robert Frost

Arts Days: November 08, 1894: America’s Bard
Robert Frost was still a student at Dartmouth College when his poem “My Butterfly: An Elegy” was published in the New York Independent. Frost was paid $15 for the piece, and he quickly went on to publish another handful of poems. His works—meditations on things in nature, like paths in the forest, leaves changing color in the autumn, a snowfall—capture rural life in lean yet vibrant phrases.

Frost would often write about one thing—a stone wall, for example—but use it as a metaphor for something else, such as the norms of social life in New England in the early 20th century. He spent much of his adult life there, after all, and the region is irrevocably entwined in his poetry books, including From Snow to Snow and You Come Too.
Literature, Poetry, Nature, America

Penguin Book

Arts Days: July 30, 1935: A Soft Spot for Writers
The Penguin publishing house made classic literary works available to a larger audience at an affordable price by publishing paperback editions—not heavy hardcover books that had been the norm up until then.

Allen Lane, Penguin’s founder, had been hunting for something to read at the train station, but had only found magazines and soft-cover romance novels. Among the first authors printed were Agatha Christie and Ernest Hemingway.

The books, a few cents each in today’s dollars, were color-coded: fiction works had an orange cover, crime a green one, and so on. And how’s this for success? That first year, some three million paperback books were sold.
Literature, Art Venues, Poetry

Dr. Seuss

Arts Days: March 02, 1904: Doctor of Rhyme
Perhaps no author of children’s books is better loved around the world than Theodor Seuss Geisel, whom you probably know simply as Dr. Seuss. Whether it’s The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss’ many books combined fantastic creatures with fun, often made-up words set to rhythmic patterns that were designed to teach children how to read through simple repetition.

You might think his books were easy to write, but Dr. Seuss often used a form of poetic rhythm called “anapestic tetrameter.” This is a fancy way of saying that in the phrases he dreamed up, two unstressed syllables were followed by one emphasized one. Read these lines from The Cat in the Hat out loud and you might hear what we mean: “Have no fear, said the cat/I will not let you fall/I will hold you up high/As I stand on a ball.” The bolded words are naturally emphasized as you read them aloud.
Cartoons, Comics, & Animation, Innovators & Pioneers, Literature, Poetry, Popular Culture

Star-Spangled Banner

Arts Days: March 03, 1931: Long May It Wave
On this March day, President Herbert Hoover signed a law officially designating this song as our national anthem. But let’s back up more than 100 years to tell the whole story.

The poem that gave rise to the song was written by Francis Scott Key as he observed—with much anxiety—the bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814 by the British navy. Key’s poem about the American flag that “yet waved” after the attack was printed in several newspapers.

Later, it was set to a popular melody by (ironically) a British composer named John Stafford Smith. The subsequent song became very popular and was frequently played at public events like parades. Also, soldiers in the U.S. Army and other members of the military often played it each time the flag was raised and lowered.
Composers, Poetry, America, Music

Woody Guthrie

Arts Days: February 23, 1940: Music of the People, For the People
The great folk singer Woody Guthrie communicated his messages of social justice and human equality through his music. Living as he did through everything from the Great Depression to the Cold War, Guthrie commented on these and other events’ effects on everyday people, like the hunger many faced in the Dust Bowl years.

“This Land is Your Land” was written in response to the themes of “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin; Guthrie considered that patriotic song to be out of touch with the cares and joys of common folks. When he created the song, he borrowed the melody of an old hymn called “O My Loving Brother” and set his own words to it.

Guthrie didn’t record “This Land is Your Land” until 1943, but he tinkered with the verses over the years, adding new words here and there.
Innovators & Pioneers, Controversial, Music Legends, Music, Folklore, America, Poetry

Langston Hughes

Arts Days: February 01, 1902: From Busboy to Poet
Langston Hughes discovered his passion for literature and poetry in high school, where he began writing his own short stories, poems, and plays for the school newspaper and yearbook.

After graduation, Hughes continued to write while holding down a series of odd jobs, from ship crewman to busboy at a Washington, DC hotel. One day while clearing dishes, he slipped a few of his poems to hotel guest, poet Vachel Lindsay. Lindsay was so impressed with what he read that he wasted little time in introducing Hughes to publishers, who embraced Hughes’ style and vibrant portrayals of African American life in America.

Hughes moved to Harlem in 1929, where he was a key figure in what’s known as the Harlem Renaissance, a time in the early 20th century when African American musicians, painters, writers, and other artists generated a rich array of artistic contributions to American culture.
Innovators & Pioneers, Literature, Poetry

Edgar Allen Poe

Arts Days: January 19, 1809: Master of the Macabre
Influential American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic Edgar Allen Poe was born on this day in 1809. He is credited with popularizing the short story in America, and contributing greatly to the emerging genres of detective fiction and science fiction.

Poe's work is considered part of the American Romantic Movement, but don't be fooled by its name; Poe's best known publications are also classified as Gothic, or literature that combines romance, mystery, and horror, and many of his stories feature themes centered on death.

Poe was also the first well-known American writer to attempt to make a living through writing alone, a decision that resulted in a financially difficult life and career. Even his most famous poem titled "The Raven" was published for nine dollars.
Innovators & Pioneers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature, Poetry

T.S. Eliot

Arts Days: May 09, 1921: The Title Says It All
"April is the cruelest month.”

That’s the famous opening of the 434-line poem created by American poet T.S. Eliot, who mentioned in a letter to a friend on this day that he “had a long poem in mind and partly on paper.”

Once completed, the first draft of “The Waste Land” was 19 pages long (although it got cut along the way.) Throughout the poem’s five sections, Eliot shifted from scene to scene, from speaker to speaker. He also inserted direct quotations from masterworks by Dante, Whitman, and Shakespeare, as well as the ancient Greeks. But make no mistake—Eliot was a bold and original modernist who broke away from the romantic poetry of the past and became a spokesperson for what he considered the hollowness and bleakness of the 20th century. He gave old words new meanings, created new poetic rhythms, and told us that the world we lived in was spiritually ruined.
Innovators & Pioneers, Poetry, Shakespeare

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