Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Litany by Billy Collins

This 3 year old recites my favorite Billy Collins' poem, "Litany" from memory.  Be still my poet-heart.  You are all my bread, knives, crystal goblets and wine....xo

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.


"Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting." ~Robert Frost


"I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests." ~Pablo Neruda, quoted in Wall Street Journal,, 14 November 1985




Kelly said...

Oh my! I am dumbfounded!

erin said...

a poem of unspeakable (and yet spoken) specificity. i don't want to like it going in but i come out not being able to help loving it. (why have i built an unfavorable bias against billy collins? some stupid bias on my part with no real foundation. i love all that he writes. his popularity, perhaps.)

i read it again and again, hungry for more.


Wine and Words said...

I am, as yet (to myself anyway) without description. I am as blank as a 50 year old can be, having been scrubbed raw. I may say to myself "You are this, but most certainly you are not this." It doesn't stick. For a time I was as I though, and for a time I am the unbelievable. Life is funny that way. We become, we come undone, we become once more

and repeat.

BamaTrav said...

That's funny, I always considered myself the "D" battery to your.........well, nevermind.

Snowbrush said...

Nary a post in two weeks--can that be right? Anyway, I hope you're doing okay.

quid said...

Oh, love the little video, and this, too, is one of my favorite "Collins". I love the "plum" line.


snowfeather said...

wow- what a recitation! thanks- I really enjoyed your blog- lovely stuff that you have shared.