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Best Famous Billy Collins Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Billy Collins poems. This is a select list of the best famous Billy Collins poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Billy Collins poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Billy Collins poems.

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by Billy Collins |

Nightclub

 You are so beautiful and I am a fool
to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing I am so beautiful and you are a fool to be in love with me, even though this notion has surely crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.
For no particular reason this afternoon I am listening to Johnny Hartman whose dark voice can curl around the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness like no one else's can.
It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette someone left burning on a baby grand piano around three o'clock in the morning; smoke that billows up into the bright lights while out there in the darkness some of the beautiful fools have gathered around little tables to listen, some with their eyes closed, others leaning forward into the music as if it were holding them up, or twirling the loose ice in a glass, slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream.
Yes, there is all this foolish beauty, borne beyond midnight, that has no desire to go home, especially now when everyone in the room is watching the large man with the tenor sax that hangs from his neck like a golden fish.
He moves forward to the edge of the stage and hands the instrument down to me and nods that I should play.
So I put the mouthpiece to my lips and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish, my long bebop solo begins by saying, so damn foolish we have become beautiful without even knowing it.


by Billy Collins |

Candle Hat

 In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
from painting The Blinding of Sampson.
But in this one Goya stands well back from the mirror and is seen posed in the clutter of his studio addressing a canvas tilted back on a tall easel.
He appears to be smiling out at us as if he knew we would be amused by the extraordinary hat on his head which is fitted around the brim with candle holders, a device that allowed him to work into the night.
You can only wonder what it would be like to be wearing such a chandelier on your head as if you were a walking dining room or concert hall.
But once you see this hat there is no need to read any biography of Goya or to memorize his dates.
To understand Goya you only have to imagine him lighting the candles one by one, then placing the hat on his head, ready for a night of work.
Imagine him surprising his wife with his new invention, the laughing like a birthday cake when she saw the glow.
Imagine him flickering through the rooms of his house with all the shadows flying across the walls.
Imagine a lost traveler knocking on his door one dark night in the hill country of Spain.
"Come in, " he would say, "I was just painting myself," as he stood in the doorway holding up the wand of a brush, illuminated in the blaze of his famous candle hat.


by Billy Collins |

I Ask You

 What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.
But beyond this table there is nothing that I need, not even a job that would allow me to row to work, or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4 with cracked green leather seats.
No, it's all here, the clear ovals of a glass of water, a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin, not to mention the odd snarling fish in a frame on the wall, and the way these three candles-- each a different height-- are singing in perfect harmony.
So forgive me if I lower my head now and listen to the short bass candle as he takes a solo while my heart thrums under my shirt-- frog at the edge of a pond-- and my thoughts fly off to a province made of one enormous sky and about a million empty branches.


by Billy Collins |

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.


by Billy Collins |

Today

 If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.


by Billy Collins |

The Art Of Drowning

 I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.
After falling off a steamship or being swept away in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand turning the pages of an album of photographs- you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.
How about a short animated film, a slide presentation? Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph? Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash? Your whole existence going off in your face in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography- nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.
Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance here, some bolt of truth forking across the water, an ultimate Light before all the lights go out, dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes as you go under, it will probably be a fish, a quick blur of curved silver darting away, having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom, leaving behind what you have already forgotten, the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds.


by Billy Collins |

For Bartleby The Scrivener

 "Every time we get a big gale around here
 some people just refuse to batten down.
" we estimate that ice skating into a sixty mile an hour wind, fully exerting the legs and swinging arms you will be pushed backward an inch every twenty minutes.
in a few days, depending on the size of the lake, the backs of your skates will touch land.
you will then fall on your ass and be blown into the forest.
if you gather enough speed by flapping your arms and keeping your skates pointed you will catch up to other flying people who refused to batten down.
you will exchange knowing waves as you ride the great wind north.


by Billy Collins |

Snow Day

 Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.
In a while I will put on some boots and step out like someone walking in water, and the dog will porpoise through the drifts, and I will shake a laden branch, sending a cold shower down on us both.
But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house, a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea and listen to the plastic radio on the counter, as glad as anyone to hear the news that the Kiddie Corner School is closed, the Ding-Dong School, closed, the All Aboard Children's School, closed, the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed, along with -- some will be delighted to hear -- the Toadstool School, the Little School, Little Sparrows Nursery School, Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School, the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed, and -- clap your hands -- the Peanuts Play School.
So this is where the children hide all day, These are the nests where they letter and draw, where they put on their bright miniature jackets, all darting and climbing and sliding, all but the few girls whispering by the fence.
And now I am listening hard in the grandiose silence of the snow, trying to hear what those three girls are plotting, what riot is afoot, which small queen is about to be brought down.


by Billy Collins |

Another Reason Why I Dont Keep A Gun In The House

 The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.
The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
I close all the windows in the house and put on a Beethoven symphony full blast but I can still hear him muffled under the music, barking, barking, barking, and now I can see him sitting in the orchestra, his head raised confidently as if Beethoven had included a part for barking dog.
When the record finally ends he is still barking, sitting there in the oboe section barking, his eyes fixed on the conductor who is entreating him with his baton while the other musicians listen in respectful silence to the famous barking dog solo, that endless coda that first established Beethoven as an innovative genius.


by Billy Collins |

Introduction To Poetry

 I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light 
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.