ABSTRACT The intention of this paper is to focus attention on the nature and value of inspiration as a function of particular importance in all aesthetic work, including psychoanalysis; and to indicate its analogous importance in personality development. Following the poets - the most expressive analysts of inspiration - inspiration is described as a mental process rather than a quality. This paper does not rely solely on mere statements about inspiration. Rather, features of the concept of inspiration are drawn from the aesthetic language of several poets: in particular, Dante, Keats, Milton, Emily Bronte, Plato. Finally, some more explicit links are made to the context of current psychoanalytic theory.