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Sonnet -- Billy Collins

Guest poem sent in by Supriya Nair
(Poem #1216) Sonnet
 All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
 and after this one just a dozen
 to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
 then only ten more left like rows of beans.
 How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
 and insist the iambic bongos must be played
 and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
 one for every station of the cross.
 But hang on here wile we make the turn
 into the final six where all will be resolved,
 where longing and heartache will find an end,
 where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
 take off those crazy medieval tights,
 blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.
-- Billy Collins
Billy Collins is easy to love and easier to understand, but for all that, I
don't think he could be classified under "Light Verse". He almost always
manages to get serious without seeming to. But then, the things he takes
seriously are often the things which we are conditioned NOT to take seriously,
but which we secretly do care about. His realm of expertise is the marginalia
(see poem #1130) of the mind - history, literature, pets, food, and how all
these get mixed up with our daydreams and memories and form bits of our life.
He's quite like a kindly, dreamy professor going about it, and this blends
beautifully with his dry, educated humour ("Laura will tell Petrarch to put
down his pen.").

I found a book of his poems which keep me awake half the night, but I picked
this one over a lot of others because I read it with the delight of recognition
- having given an English exam recently - and the warm, fuzzy, not at all
cynical final image of the muse telling her devotee call it a day is, for me,
one of Billy Collins' finest achievements.

Supriya

53 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Martin Alexander said...

I love Billy Collins' poems, but while he may have his wiles, while is
spelled with an H!

Martin

Melissa Minjares said...

Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful, quirky poem.

Before you post this permanently on your site you might correct the typo:
in line 9 the word is "while" not "wile" (Sailing Alone Around the Room --
p146)

"A poet can survive anything but a misprint." -- Oscar Wilde
Melissa Minjares

Supriya Nair said...

"while", then. W-H-I-L-E in all the glory of it's formerly dropped 'h'!! Excuse the common cockney...I'm a terrible typist.

Supriya.

Ed Bell said...

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Billy Collins read "Sonnet" on
the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. It was my introduction this
poetic gem. So much quiet power in fourteen lines. It made me smile
with pleasure.

Fred Ubaldo Jr said...

"W-H-I-L-E in all the glory of it's formerly dropped 'h'!!

Hate to be a stickler, but the possessive of "it" is spelled without an
apostrophe: "its".

Writing is at the mercy of the largest number of amateurs: the general
population.
- Jacques Barzun

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Anonymous said...

could some one tell me how to contact billy collins want to publish his sonnet in my book
rajan

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