Notes from Octavio Paz, The Art of Poetry interview from the Paris Review:
-History, you know, is one thing and our lives are something else.
-human freedom is conditional. In English, when you are let out of jail you’re “on parole,” and parole means “speech,” “word,” “word of honor.” But the condition under which you are free is language, human awareness.
-There are two situations for every human being. The first is the solitude we feel when we are born. Our first situation is that of orphanhood, and it is only later that we discover the opposite, filial attachment. The second is that because we are thrown, as Heidegger says, into this world, we feel we must find what the Buddhists call “the other share.” This is the thirst for community. I think philosophy and religion derive from this original situation or predicament. Every country and every individual tries to resolve it in different ways. Poetry is a bridge between solitude and communion.
-But even between lovers solitude is never completely abolished. Conversely, solitude is never absolute. We are always with someone, even if it is only our shadow. We are never one—we are always we. These extremes are the poles of human life.
-The poet is at the service of his poems.
-I believe in inspiration, but I also believe that we’ve got to help inspiration, restrain it, and even contradict it.
-poetry today is like a secret cult whose rites are celebrated in the catacombs, on the fringes of society.
-If a society without social justice is not a good society, a society without poetry is a society without dreams, without words, and most importantly, without that bridge between one person and another that poetry is. We are different from the other animals because we can talk, and the supreme form of language is poetry. If society abolishes poetry it commits spiritual suicide.