World Poetry Day: Top 10 quotes by the world’s most famous poets
A village phone booth in Michaelstone-le-Pit, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, being put to good use as the village libraryGetty Images

Today, 21 March, marks the 17th year for the annual celebration of World Poetry Day. Declared thus by Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1999, the commemorative day is spent celebrating poetry, free speech and literature.

The day is used for spreading awareness and promoting the teaching of poetry and encouraging creativity. Unesco director-general Irina Bokova said: "By paying tribute to the men and women whose only instrument is free speech, who imagine and act, Unesco recognizes in poetry its value as a symbol of the human spirit's creativity. By giving form and words to that which has none — such as the unfathomable beauty that surrounds us, the immense suffering and misery of the world — poetry contributes to the expansion of our common humanity, helping to increase its strength, solidarity and self-awareness."

Fun fact: National Poetry Day in the UK is still celebrated on the first or second Thursday of October. In 2015, it took place on 8 October with the theme "light".

In celebration of World Poetry Day, IBTimes UK has compiled a list of top 10 quotes from eminent poets through the ages.

  • "Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven." — William Shakespeare
  • "The Poetry of the earth is never dead." — John Keats
  • "Years of love have been forgot, in the hatred of a minute." — Edgar Allen Poe
  • "Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark." — Rabindranath Tagore
  • "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origins from emotion recollected in tranquillity." — William Wordsworth
  • "Love recognises no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope." — Maya Angelou
  • "Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are dangerously close to wanting nothing." — Sylvia Plath
  • "There is no Frigate like a book to take us lands away nor any courses like a page of prancing Poetry." — Emily Dickenson
  • "An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose." — Langston Hughes
  • "I am two fools, I know, For loving, and for saying so in whining poetry." — John Donne