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, 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, →OCLC, 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, 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, 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, page 174: “[Y]et if there be poetry in motion, he was entitled to it.”

Further reading[edit]