What It Is
Quips, Quotes, Humorous Things
and Background on Thermopylae and its policies

Statements on Poetry: added June 8, 1999
Poetry: What It Is
Poets: What They Are
Poetry: What's Its Use?
Limericks About Poets and Poetry
Naughty New Limericks: added June 8, 1999
What's A Thermopylae?
Writers' Guidelines


Special thanks to Jeffrey Alfier for some of these.

No poet ever had a home, but the one his heart invented.-- John Balaban, Letters from Across the Sea

He does not write at all whose poem no man reads.-- Martial

Poetry is the language of extremity. Poetry is a transfer of potency. You feel something potent and then you transfer it onto the page. --Li-Young Lee

Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge: it is the impassioned expression which is on the countenance of all science.--Wordsworth

Decades it takes a child to change into a poet.
And civilizations fall and are ploughed under
to grow a garden on the ruins,
the true mystic.
--Sanai, Sufi poet, from The Time Needed

Next to being a great poet, is the power of understanding one. --Longfellow, Hyperion

A poet is the painter of the soul.--Isaac D'Israeli.

Every poem should be made up of lines that are poems--Emerson, Journals

Poetry is the natural language of all worship. --Madame de Stael

The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood--Jean Cocteau

All books are either dreams or swords,
You can cut, or you can drug, with words.
--Amy Lowell, Sword Blades and Poppy Seeds

Life distilled--Gwendolyn Brooks

The language of a state of crisis.--Mallarme

A literary gift--chiefly because you can't sell it.--from Cynic's Cyclopedia

The revelation of a feeling that the poet believes to be interior and personal but which the reader recognizes as his own.--Salvatore Quasimodo

The journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.--Carl Sandburg

What Milton saw when he went blind.--Don Marquis

All that is worth remembering of life--William Hazlitt

I have nothing to say, I am saying it, and that is poetry.--John Cage

Priest(s) of the invisible.--Wallace Stevens

Those who utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.--Plato

Liars by profession.--Jonathan Swift

The eternal bane of landlords.--Anonymous

God's most candid critics.--Walter Raleigh

(People who) can survive anything but a misprint.--Oscar Wilde

It is as unseeing to ask what is the use of poetry as it would be to ask what is the use of religion. --Edith Sitwell

Poetry is something more philosophical and more worthy of serious attention than history.--Aristotle

Delight is the chief if not the only end...
instruction can be admitted but in the second place, for poetry only instructs as it delights.
--John Dryden

By the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel..before all, to make you see. That, and no more, and it is everything. --Joseph Conrad

Shelley's death--was it really his wish
To be drowned 'midst Italian fish?
I certainly think
I'd dive in the drink
If my parents had christened me Bysshe.
--Bill Greenwell

NOTE: Mr. Greenwell recently provided this biographical note: Born 1952 in Sunderland, Co. Durham, England; now lives in Devon. Resident poet with NEW STATESMAN magazine. His book TONY BLAIR REMINDS ME OF A BUDGIE available for 5 pounds (including postage) from: PO Box 317, Exeter, Devon, England EX4 3SR.

Limericks by the Great Poet, Anon

A poetess, armed with a skewer,
Once hunted a hostile reviewer.
"I'll teach him!" she cried,
"When I've punctured his hide,
To call my last poem too pure!"

There once was a couple named Mound,
Whose sexual control was profound;
When engaged in coition,
They had the ambition
To study the Cantos by Pound.

If you find for your verse there's no call,
And you can't afford paper at all,
For the poet true born,
However forlorn,
There's always the lavatory wall.

Naughty New Limericks

In bed the Romantics were vile--
Lord Byron apart, Shelley's style,
Was to lick his wife's belly
While poor Mary Shelley
Wrote Frankenstein grimly meanwhile.

There once was a poet from Hexameter
Whose mistress kept calling him amateur.
She said, "Your technique
Is too rough and antique,
And your rhythm's a jerky pentameter.

The poet named Robinson Jeffers
Wrote quatrains as light as the zephyrs.
He was fragile and lean
And a bit epicene
(Except when hucking the feifers).

There once was a poet named Keats
Who enjoyed smelling bicycle seats.
For those used by men
He had no great yen,
But those squiffed by girls he thought treats.

The Iliad's really no mystery,
Though highly confusing and blistery.
It's a long story tellin'
Of the search for Queen Helen
By the prize horse's ass of all history.

'Twas a trait of small Thomas Love Peacock's
And his brother to sink both their wee cocks
Into fish, snake, or bird,
But the tail they preferred
Was the one that made Thomas love peacocks.

The title of this electronic journal is inspired by the eponymous poem by Constant P. Cavafy. It refers to a battle in 480 B.C. between Sparta and Persia at Thermopylae, a notoriously narrow pass from Thessaly to Locris. Led by King Leonidas of Sparta, an army of 1000 fought literally to the last man (only one soldier survived) a battle which they knew they would lose. The place name derives from the nearby hot baths (therm means heat and pylae means gates in Greek).

Cavafy's poem pays tribute to the defense of a lost but righteous cause. Its opening lines read:

Honor to those who in the life they lead
define and guard a Thermopylae.

To me, the poem applies to all who support just causes, including the cause of keeping poetry alive.

This magazine champions the cause of preserving poems which might otherwise vanish when the periodicals or books in which they were printed are taken off shelves. Thermopylae provides a permanent shelter for them and hopes to give these poems new life on the World Wide Web by sharing them with new audiences. Although some of our contributors may as yet be unknown to you, all have published widely in respected literary journals or have published books. It is this zine's intent to whet your appetite for more of their works and to encourage you to buy their books and thus keep these writers in print.


If you would like your previously published verse to be permanently archived in THERMOPYLAE please QUERY FIRST. Send an email, including a brief CV, to the editor. I will also consider unpublished poems which have proven too controversial for publication elsewhere.

Only works by writers who have published in established, reputable print journals are accepted. (As a guideline, litmags which are listed in Poet's Market.)

All schools, all points of view, all styles, and all subjects are welcome, whether Christian, Communist, New Age, African-American, Latino, queer, or anything else. In addition to poetry, I also accept reviews and critical essays.

Thermopylae doesn't pay. This is a labor of love. However, this site does receive a fairly high volume of traffic relative to most poetry zines. We hope that the opportunity of an expanded audience for your previously published works will encourage you to contribute your poems to these pages.

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Copyright © 1997 - 2000
Dr. Gloria Glickstein Brame
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strictly prohibited by the laws governing intellectual property rights.