Sailing Alone Around the Room; New and Selected Poems


Here is another collection of Billy Collins’s: Sailing Alone Around the Room. I’m quickly learning to like Collins, but I still don’t feel I know enough about poetry to provide any critical insight as to the quality of his writing. It feels clean and fresh, and I like it. I’m still not sure why, though. So I’m going to include one of my favorite poems, as I did with my last poetry post, and call it good.


After three days of steady rain –
over two inches said the radio –
I follow the example of monks
who wrote by a window, sunlight on the page.

Five times this morning,
I loaded a wheelbarrow with wood
and steered it down the hill to the house,
and later I will cut down the dead garden

with a clippers and haul the soft pulp
to a grave in the woods,
but now there is only
my sunny page which is like a poem

I am covering with another poem
and the dog asleep on the tiles,
her head in her paws,
her hind legs splayed out like a frog.

How foolish it is to long for childhood,
to want to run in circles in the yard again,
arms outstretched,
pretending to be an airplane.

How senseless to dread whatever lies before us
when, night and day, the boats,
strong as horses in the wind,
come and go,

bringing in the tiny infants
and carrying away the bodies of the dead.


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