Billy Collins Rocks In A Hard Place


The world isn’t hungry for poetry anymore. I am still trying to discover why. Perhaps we’ve been baddened to the taste by magnanimous High School teachers who give out poetry that is inappropriate for the reader and fails to make the requisite connection that is the lifeline of a good poem. A High School kid reading e.e. cummings is like giving our vaunted Pharmaceutical Conglomerates a book to read on business ethics. The words are there and the medium is understood. The nectar of the work, however, is left untapped and the poem is like a autumn leaves, beautiful to look at while inside the organism is only marginally alive. Poetry is both beautiful to glimpse and to read. The life inside is the true power and certain poems will hit you harder than many movies and even life experiences themselves.

Billy Collins is a poet who deftly crafts his form with twinkles of humor to soften the form and allow the number of eligible readers to grow tremendously. Many time I have taken friend or family member to see Billy Collins read. The reaction is almost uniform. “I didn’t know that poetry could be like THAT!” This is the magic of his work. I have met him on several occasions and find him to be as pure as the wonderful concepts he conveys. He is one of my living idols and hope that you open yourself up to read his work. If you would like information on how and where to see him perform (an absolute must!), leave a comment and I will supply some more information on where he will be reading.

Here is one of my favorite poems that strums one of Collins’ favorite themes. That is, the pathos of the state of poetry and poetry itself. Ironic as it sounds, Collins loves to poke fun at the very art that is his life’s work. When he reads this, he introduces the poem by explaining a bit behind the work. He had come across a poem that was abusing the metaphor to a point of utter ridiculousness. The fact that this silly poem was publishes irked Collins. So, he tkes the first two lines of the poem in question and then sets off to complete it as he sees fit. The poem is called Litany. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do. And, of course, Mr. Collins, if you would like to share some comments with us or consent to an interview, we would be honored. Please simply comment if you would like to share some of your time. Enjoy!

Billy Collins!

Litany

by Billy Collins

“You are the bread and the knife,

the crystal goblet and the wine.”

– Jacques Crickillon

You are the dew on the morning grass

and the burning wheel of the sun.

You are the white apron of the baker

and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,

the plums on the counter,

or the house of cards.

And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.

There is just no way you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,

maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,

but you are not even close

to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show

that you are neither the boots in the corner

nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,

speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,

that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,

the evening paper blowing down an alley,

and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman’s tea cup.

But don’t worry, I am not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife.

You will always be the bread and the knife,

not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow– the wine.

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