Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So is this going to be a blog wherein I just post poems by other people?


But I just have to share this Billy Collins poem featured in today's Writer's Almanac. I spent all last night, tossing and turning because I couldn't remember the name of the tree I planted in the backyard a few summers ago--even though I planted it in the memory of a friend who loved this variety and even though it is a stunningly common tree and even though I have known the name of this tree for ALL MY LIFE. No wonder this poem speaks to me.


by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


Sherpa said...

This poem has been turned into an animated poem with Billy Collins reading the poem and can be found on Youtube. Here's the link if you haven't seen it yet. Hope you enjoy!


Alyosha said...

My husband constantly rereads books, something I almost never do, because he totally forgets them. He just remembers he liked them, so they're safe choices. I rarely reread books because there are so many NEW books to read!

Louise Plummer said...

I arise often in the middle of the night looking for lost memories. Thank heaven for Google.

Lisa B. said...

Love this.

For another beautiful Billy Collins poem:


BBB said...

Billy Collins is my absolute favorite poet.

Andria said...

I love Billy. I have kind of a crush on him. I admit it. Even though he's not really handsome and he's old enough to be my dad, I think his brain is hot! ;)