Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Kind of Poem

This is the kind of poem I wish I'd written.  We read it today in my English class.  It's hilarious but still insightful. I love the ending a lot.


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.

I love the way this poem makes fun of romantic poems. It doesn't do it by going overboard, but by understatement. "There is just no way you are the pine-scented air."

My teacher, Mr. Jones, has us read a lot of Billy Collins because he likes his poetry. I've found I've enjoyed a lot of it too. But my current favorite poet is T.S. Eliot. I recently discovered his "Four Quartets" and have been reading them slowly. They take more than one reading to even begin to understand.

These are the kind of poets I want to be like. I want to be humorous and understated and ironic like Billy Collins, but I also want to be rhythmic and deep and beautiful like T.S. Eliot.

I want to paint with words.

Do you have a favorite poet? I'd love to hear who it is!


  1. Billy Collins is definitely a favorite of mine, and jumping back a few hundred years, I'm also very partial to George Herbert.

    1. I don't think I've heard of George Herbert. I'll have to look him up. :)

  2. I love subtle irony. It's so good. :D

    Btw, I wanted to thank you for putting a link to my blog under "Blogs you should visit"!!



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