[Poetry Friday] Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems by Billy Collins (Part 3 of 3)

poetry friday

Fats here.

Today concludes the three-part series featuring poems by Billy Collins, from his poetry anthology entitled, “Aimless Love.” If you missed the first two, you can revisit Part 1 here and Part 2 here. The brilliant wordplay, wit, and humor in his poems would leave you craving for more.

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Poetry Friday round-up is hosted this week by Linda at TeacherDance!


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To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl

Do you realize that if you had started
building the Parthenon on the day you were born
you would be all done in only one more year?
Of coures, you couldn’t have done it alone,
so never mind, you’re fine just as you are.
You are loved simply for being yourself.
But did you know that at your age Judy Garland
was pulling down $150,000 a picture,
Joan of Arc was leading the French army to victory,
and Blaise Pascal had cleaned up his room?
No wait, I mean he had invented the calculator.
Of course, there will be time for all that later in your life
after you come out of your room
and begin to blossom, or at least pick up all your socks.
For some reason, I keep remembering that Lady Jane Grey
was Queen of England when she was only fifteen,
but then she was beheaded, so never mind her as a role model.
A few centuries later, when he was your age,
Franz Schubert was doing the dishes for his family
but that did not keep him from composing two symphonies,
four operas, and two complete Masses as a youngster.
But of course that was in Austria at the height
of romantic lyricism, not here in the suburbs of Cleveland.
Frankly, who cares if Annie Oakley was a crack shot at 15
or if Maria Callas debuted as Tosca at 17?
We think you are special by just being you,
playing with your food and staring into space.
By the way, I lied about Schubert doing the dishes,
but that doesn’t mean he never helped out around the house.

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The Trouble with Poetry

(an excerpt)

The trouble with poetry, I realized
as I walked along a beach one night—
cold Florida sand under my bare feet,
a show of stars in the sky—
the trouble with poetry is
that it encourages the writing of more poetry,
more guppies crowding the fish tank,
more baby rabbits
hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass.
And how will it ever end?
unless the day finally arrives
when we have compared everything in the world
to everything else in the world,
and there is nothing left to do
but quietly close our notebooks
and sit with our hands folded on our desks.

Poetry fills me with joy
and I rise like a feather in the wind
Poetry fills me with sorrow
and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge.

But mostly poetry fills me
with the urge to write poetry,
to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame
to appear at the tip of my pencil.
  1. Billy Collins – wise and wryly funny. Thanks for sharing two of my favorites.

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  2. Billy Collins writes for all of us, doesn’t he? And for the here and now! Both are wonderful, but he manages to say much in few words, as we all try to do: “after you come out of your room” Thanks, Fats.

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  3. Both of these are delightful. I can certainly relate to the 17 year old addressed in the first one. I’m still waiting to accomplish half as much. And yes, poetry does seem to lead to ever more poetry, but that’s a good thing!

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  4. Love your picks! Billy Collins is a wonder. He gets every topic so RIGHT. He’s got that dry, serious tone, and yet he’s hysterically funny.

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  5. Oh my goodness, “To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl” is one of my favourites, I love it! Such a delightful mixture of humour and heart.

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  6. These made my 16 year old son laugh a lot. Perhaps it was my dramatic tongue-in-cheek reading. Or perhaps it was the savior faire of Collins. Either way, thanks for sharing and allowing my son and I a moment.

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  7. I love Collins’ wit, and the “Poetry” poem has always been a favorite of mine. (I hope to remember the 1st poem when my daughter turns 17!)

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