Sunday, May 4, 2014

Billy Collins

To finish up my poetry reading month, I read The Apple That Astonished Paris by Billy Collins.  Collins's poetry has always stirred and impressed me.  Collins uses words like no other poet has ever used them.  There's something timeless about his style; it's definitely modern (no rhyming, modern themes), but yet it makes so many references to timeless things that it isn't really modern poetry at all.

I thought that I would quote one of Collins's poems about books because it is so fitting for my blog and it also is a review of the book unto itself.
Billy Collins

Books   by Billy Collins

From the heart of this dark, evacuated campus
I can hear the library humming in the night,
a choir of authors murmuring inside their books
along the unlit, alphabetical shelves,
Giovani Pontano next to Pope, Dumas next to his son,
each one stitched into his own private coat,
together forming a low, gigantic chord of language.

I picture a figure in the act of reading,
shoes on a desk, head tilted into the wind of a book,
a man in two worlds, holding the rope of his tie
as the suicide of lovers saturates a page,
or lighting a cigarette in the middle of the theorem.
He moves from paragraph to paragraph
as if touring a house of endless, panelled rooms.

I hear the voice of my mother reading to me
from a chair facing the bed, books about horses and dogs,
and inside her voice lie other distant sounds,
the horrors of a stable ablaze at night,
a bark that is moving toward the brink of speech.

I watch myself building bookshelves in college,
walls within walls, as rain soaks New England,
or standing in a bookstore in a trench coat.

I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
straining in circles of light to find more light
until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
that we follow across a page of fresh snow;

when evening is shadowing the forest
and small birds flutter down to consume the crumbs,
we have to listen hard to hear the voices
of the boy and his sister receding into the woods.

And there is all the review that is needed for this wonderful poet.  I highly recommend anything that Collins has written.


2 comments:

  1. A most perfect poem for you to quote. I especially love this verse, Belle

    I see all of us reading ourselves away from ourselves,
    straining in circles of light to find more light
    until the line of words becomes a trail of crumbs
    that we follow across a page of fresh snow;

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    Replies
    1. I know. Isn't that pretty? Thanks for the comment :)

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