poetry in motion

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The term appears in 19th-century works in a literal sense.[1]



poetry in motion (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Fluid, graceful movement. [from mid 19th c.]
    • 1847, T[erence] M[cMahon] Hughes, chapter IX, in An Overland Journey to Lisbon at the Close of 1846; with a Picture of the Actual State of Spain and Portugal. [...] In Two Volumes, volume II, London: Henry Colburn, publisher, [], OCLC 79948562, page 132:
      If we must have male figures in the most conspicuous parts of ballets, they should be young men of light and agreeable figures. [...] But for the true realization of poetry in motion, the eye of the artist and true amateur requires the beautiful proportions of the female figure.
    • 1948 July, Devon Francis, “The Inside Story of the New Ford”, in Perry Githens, editor, Popular Science Monthly, volume 153, number 1, New York, N.Y.: Popular Science Publishing Company, ISSN 0032-4647, OCLC 498719638, page 80:
      From the front of the hood to the tips of the tail lights [of the car], the lines, were poetry in motion.
    • 2001, Megan McCafferty, “The Tenth”, in Sloppy Firsts: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Three Rivers Press, →ISBN, page 16:
      He was jumping over hurdles. He was all smoothness and grace. He made it look easy—a sign of pure genius. OneTwoThreeAIR … OneTwoThreeAIR. I got so distracted by his poetry in motion that I wasn't ready when my track teammate Carrie P. came at me in a full-on sprint to hand off the baton. She crashed into me and I dropped it.
  2. (idiomatic) A person or thing that moves in a particularly fluid, graceful way.
    • 1960, Mike Anthony; Paul Kaufman (lyrics and music), “Poetry in Motion”, performed by Johnny Tillotson:
      Poetry in motion, walkin' by my side / Her lovely locomotion keeps my eyes open wide / Poetry in motion, see her gentle sway / A wave out on the ocean could never move that way
    • 1982, Thomas Dolby (lyrics and music), “She Blinded Me With Science”, in The Golden Age Of Wireless:
      It's poetry in motion / And now she's making love to me / The spheres are in commotion
    • 1992, Shirley A. McNichols, Best in the West, Denver, Colo.: Pioneer Drama Service, OCLC 33440254, Act II, scene i, page 27:
      TEDDY: I know what I like! Take Miss Hastings, for example. She's poetry in motion. And her voice, like honey dripping off the comb. / HANNAH: Yeah, but can she shoot? / TEDDY: It doesn't matter. Real ladies don't need to shoot.
    • 2010, Chi Kang; Katherine Chou, “Horses”, in 季康畫集 [Chi Kang: Painting Collection], Taipei: 國立歷史博物館 [National Museum of History], →ISBN, page 26, column 2:
      Above all else, Chi Kang loved to draw horses, proud creatures that transcended common crudeness. Chi Kang regarded horses as living art forms – poetry in motion; stunning, powerful and independent; capable of lifting humans to a higher standard beyond their own capabilities in movement and freedom.
    • 2015 February 9, Robert Byron, “The Sixties”, in The Dancing Man, Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, →ISBN, page 94:
      His timing was perfect. He was poetry in motion. He was the folk dancer equivalent to Barishnikov.[sic, meaning Mikhail Baryshnikov]



  1. ^ See, for example, Henry Mercer Graves (1826) , “A Letter on Taste, Judgment, and Rhetorical Expression”, in An Essay on the Genius of Shakespeare, with Critical Remarks on the Characters of Romeo, Hamlet, Juliet, and Ophelia; [], London: James Bigg, [], OCLC 5997741, footnote, page 112: “I can conceive music in motion; but I never could conceive poetry in motion.”; “a younker” [pseudonym; Josiah Cobb] (1841) , “Our Employments”, in A Green Hand’s First Cruise, Roughed out from the Log-book of Memory, of Twenty-five Years Standing: [] In Two Volumes, volume II, Baltimore, Md.: Cushing & Brother, OCLC 3415530, page 174: “[Y]et if there be poetry in motion, he was entitled to it.”

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