(Poem #1095) Litany
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.
It is surprising that I haven't run more poems by Billy Collins - for some reason, even his being appointed U.S. Poet Laureate didn't really tempt me into exploring his work. I've been reading a few of his poems recently, though, and with increasing appreciation, and was planning to run the haunting "I go back to the house for a book" sometime, when a friend sent me a link to today's masterpiece. I was totally blown away by 'Litany' - not just due to its considerable poetic merits, but because it is so much the kind of poem I'd have loved to have written myself, a coolly ironic commentary on the nature of Poetry that at the same time loses none of the sense of wonder and delight that characterises the medium. Simply beautiful, and a poem I couldn't possibly add any further commentary to. martin Links: http://www.bigsnap.com/linklibrary.html is an extensiev site devoted to Collins And I found today's poem in the wonderful plagiarist.com archive: http://www.plagiarist.com/poetry/?wid=4431