Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

National Poetry Month 2017

April is National Poetry Month, so I'd be remiss if I didn't feature at least one poem. This year, I'm going with one by Billy Collins, who I've featured before. I've attended one of his readings, and his knack for vivid imagery combined with wit makes him especially fun to hear live. Here's video of him reading "Litany" and giving some context for it:

The poem itself:

By Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
– Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
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 that 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'm 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.

The speaker of the poem comes off as a bit egotistical and harsh, and this upending of convention in a supposed love poem makes it funny, but there's also an affection to the piece, along with some lovely images. Collins, who's been the National Poet Laureate, is well worh checking out.

I'll also link the wonderful Favorite Poem Project once again. Funding for it may be tight this year, but they're accepting donations (I sent one).

Feel free to link or post a favorite poem in the comments.