Henry Louis Mencken Quotes

The only safe skeptic is one who was never exposed to faith in his infancy. Converts of more mature years are always more or less unreliable.

There is only one justification for having sinned, and that is to be glad of it.

The American, in other words, thinks that the sinner has no rights that any one is bound to respect, and he is prone to mistake an unsupported charge of sinning, provided it be made violently enough, for actual proof and confession.

The news that The American Mercury is “lacking in constructive points of view” is surely not news to me. If any such points of view ever get into it, it will only be my mutilated and pathetic corpse. The uplift has damn nigh ruined the country. What we need is more sin.

Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-and both commonly succeed, and are right.

You say you are not striking at me when you complain of Van Doren. Well, why in hell shouldn’t you strike at me, if the spirit moves you? When I write about you as an author I put aside all friendship and try to consider you objectively. When, as an author, you discuss me as […]

It was poetry, which is to say, a mellifluous and caressing statement of the certainly not true. The two elements, of untruth and of beauty, are both important, and perhaps equally.

You (Ezra Pound) made your great mistake when you abandoned the poetry business, and set up shop as a wizard in general practice. You wrote, in your day, some very good verse, and I had the pleasure, along with other literary buzzards, of calling attention to it at the time. But when you fell into […]

Poetry has done enough when it charms, but prose must also convince.

When the mercury is 95, I dine in my shirt sleeves and write poetry naked.