Sometimes you just want to cradle a poetry book and get lost in the meaning of the words, because they are deep and make you think.  Often, it is the quote from a poem that will make you surrender your thoughts, some poetry quotes are unbelievably imaginative and inspirational.

They lead us to relate, often on a personal level, with the words in the poem, and when you couple that with poetry’s attachment to metered stanzas and rhyming verses, etc., you will understand how difficult it is to resist poetry quotes.

Poetry lovers in Nigeria know of this, if you have ever been to a poetry event, perhaps a poetry reading or a spoken word contest, you will know for a fact that almost every verse in poetry is a quote to live by.

You will find that poems supply us with inspirational quotes, motivational quotes, friendship quotes, love quotes, sad quotes, life quotes and sometimes even funny quotes.

Some of our favourite quotes from poems were from the classical poems by some of the famous poets in the world such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Whalt Whitman, William Wordsworth, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S Eliot, William Shakespeare, Pablo Neruda and a lot of others.

Poetry is amazingly distinct from other forms of literature, and fortunately, we have a very rich culture of literature in Nigeria, there are plenty of books you can read to get your fix of motivational and inspirational poetry quotes.

Here are some of our favourite poetry quotes.

Motivational poetry quotes can help a person going through a hard time.
Many poetry quotes are motivational in nature. Photo: Unsplash.

Poetry Quotes And Sayings To Live By

“Loyal tree

that stood guard

alone in austere emeraldry

over Nature’s recumbent standard”

To begin, we will start the list with the poetry quote of one of the greatest Nigerian and African literary giants. Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian author and poet who has raised the bar on African literature and writing, and he has brought it to the attention of the global audience.

His works are usually poems that portray the livelihood of the people of the era he lived, post-colonial and during the Biafran wars.

However, this quote above is about was about standing for your cause no matter what, he wrote it to a friend Leon Damas, a French politician and poet who was in the midst of opposing views.

“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”

This particular quote by Lord Tennyson portrays the contradictory relationship one can have with life, not just with people. It is from a poem titled In Memoriam A.H.H. and it succinctly shows how fragile life can be, one day you have someone you love the next they are gone.

So it is better to share the love with them and care about them when you have the chance before they are gone forever. He shows that it is more fulfilling that way than to never have loved at all.

“Oh that map, that knife, those

contending emperors

These bleeding scars in a Continent's soul,

Insisting on a millennium of healing.”

This was a quote from Niyi Osundare’s poem BERLIN, it was a masterpiece. Niyi Osundare is one of Nigeria’s great poet and writer, he has written many published works in the English language and in his native Yoruba language, among which you will find poetry for children.

Just like Chinua Achebe, he grew up during the colonial era and most of his poems are often based on the portrayal of living in that time period. He is a contemporary of African poetry.

The quote from this poem BERLIN is depicting the story of Africa and its countries that suffered through the clutches of colonialism, including Nigeria.

That knife is referring to the blunt force used by the colonial powers to carve out borders in the African continent, to distribute among themselves, and he likens the division of the countries to actual knife-cuts that were scars that needed healing.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

This was written by Robert Frost in his poem Road Not Taken. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco and was famous for the depiction of New England in his poems. New England is a region in the United States of America that comprises of states in the North-eastern part of the country.

The quote talks about the paths of life one can take, you can either follow the crowd and do the same old things or take the one less travelled by. It depicts a journey of being lost and found in search of some meaning in the path of life.

Robert Frost was simply one of the best English poets of his time, his works have been published in many books and magazines, and they continue to serve as a means of art and literature for upcoming generations.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

This poem by Dylan Thomas is widely quoted to show how one should take charge of a situation, either of a situation in their life or an event in their life, if they have something to offer, they should face it with no fear.

Although it speaks of old age in the poem, the message is not limited to old people at the end of their reign, who need to put more spark into it, but it is also for anyone who wants to accomplish something during their time.

“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.


From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Sometimes poems make their way into the theatre, and this poetry quote, from The Lord Of The Rings franchise, was written by Gandalf to the protagonist of the story, Frodo Baggins, to help him identify a certain stranger called Strider.

Every Lord of The Rings fan knows what we are on about, but at the moment we are more concerned about the poem written by Gandalf. J.R.R Tolkien created a masterpiece when he wrote this poem, and it has been used more than once in some of the films.

It talks about the power of the small man, or the oppressed, or the minority, that they could rise again especially when the odds are against them. The line From the ashes a fire shall be woken depicts a defeated force (person, a group of people, etc.), that will rise again from the ashes of their destruction.

Renewed shall be blade that was broken, again, talks about rising against the forces that defeated you. This sounds like the anthem of a revolution.

“You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.”

This legendary poem by Maya Angelou titled Still I Rise, also portrays the attitude of not giving up. And that despite her struggles, she will rise.

Maya Angelou was a Black American woman, who suffered through a series of unforgettable events in her life, this poem was a testament of her pulling through the mud.

Its narrative is mostly about the black woman, so it was popular among black young girls, who were subject to discrimination. Maya became the voice against discrimination and the symbol of the black woman because of this written piece.

Famous poetry quote by Maya Angelou incites the fight for human rights.
Some poetry quotes are voices fighting for human rights. Photo: Unsplash.

Although there is a lot of understanding between different races nowadays, the poem is still majorly celebrated across the world.

She writes;

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

I rise, I rise, I rise.”

 “On a land made for poetry, the perfect

Turn of every phrase. In all of these

The desert was ever present, its idiolect

Suffusing the streets with a certain ease

Found in the Sahel, elegant, understated

Borderland dexterity, animist bon vivant

Measured out in bright speech that elated

With the germinal wisdom of the sun.”

Onto more contemporary choices, we have Tade Ipadeola’s poem The Sahara Testaments, from a poetry collection of the same name. He won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2013, hosted by NLNG, one of the most prestigious poetry prizes in Nigeria.

He uses the Sahel desert as his inspiration, explaining in great detail the characteristics and quality of the Sahara Desert.

Poetry quotes are often characterized with African quotes.
The African continent was sliced and slashed during the colonial period. Photo: Unsplash.

Best Inspirational Quotes About Poetry

Charles Darwin once said,

“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.” ― Charles Darwin

You can imagine how much poetry must have meant to him. Poetry is immersing, it takes you whole. Some people were not shy to express their love for poetry, just like Charles Darwin here.

And what they said have become famous, the quotes about poetry usually define poetry and add to our understanding of its meaning. Below are some of the more famous ones.

Quotes About Poetry

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” ― Victor Hugo

One can argue that music is a form of spoken word poetry, and poetry is a form of music because this quote is effectively the definition of poetry.

“At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ― Plato

The complete quote is actually “Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”

A popular and famous quote about poetry, at least to anyone who has been touched by love.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo is a master painter, he did the epic Sistine Chapel painting, so it is not surprising when he compares poetry to painting.

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” ― Robert Frost

Robert Frost was popularly known as the author of Road Not Taken, this quote famously summarizes how poets feel when they are about to write. All the greats of Nigerian poetry right from Chinua Achebe to Niyi Osundare and the others all indicate that sense of wrongness and homesickness in their poems.

Here's how you can find poems online in Nigeria.

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Hafiz is a freelance writer who has an appetite for creativity and smart tech. He also dabbles in poetry.