(Poem #1854) The Story We Know
The way to begin is always the same. Hello, Hello. Your hand, your name. So glad, Just fine, And Good-bye at the end. That's every story we know, And why pretend? But lunch tomorrow? No? Yes? An omelette, salad, chilled white wine? The way to begin is simple, sane, Hello, And then it's Sunday, coffee, the Times, a slow Day by the fire, dinner at eight or nine And Good-bye. In the end, this is a story we know So well we don't turn the page, or look below The picture, or follow the words to the next line: The way to begin is always the same Hello. But one night, through the latticed window, snow Begins to whiten the air, and the tall white pine. Good-bye is the end of every story we know That night, and when we close the curtains, oh, We hold each other against that cold white sign Of the way we all begin and end. Hello, Good-bye is the only story. We know, we know.
"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,/ Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,/ To the last syllable of recorded time" - poets and writers have never had a problem expressing the dull, measured tread of day following day following day, and "The Story We Know" is a fine example of the genre. Collins uses a variant of the villanelle form to good effect, a series of "every day the same" verses bracketed and counted off by the endless rounds of "hello" and "good-bye". Where the poem really drew me in, though, was in the penultimate verse, the brilliantly placed "But one night" jolting the reader awake with the promise that this time around, things are different. The poem after that gets steadily deeper, as we take a metaphorical step back and see the darker shadow of life and death wrap itself around the flickering round of days, and the poignant conclusion summing it all up: Hello, Good-bye is the only story. We know, we know. martin [Links] Biography: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/273