Monday, December 6, 2010

Night Letter to the Reader

Thanks to you, my literary friends, and the fabulous group at The Blue Bookcase, my horizons are expanding.

I love that feeling.  I love branching out, the wonder of voluntarily being forced into new experiences.

Before this last weekend was over I had ordered two books of poetry: Billy Collins and Wendell Barry. One small poem from each of these I read, and knew I needed to read more.  Wendell Barry had this simple thought expressed in few words:
Leavings: Poems

Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly
leaving nothing out.

I love that!  I haven't received the book yet, so that's all I've experienced so far (via the handy dandy Amazon preview) but I'm looking forward to reading more.  I did receive Nine Horses by Billy Collins today, however, and fell in love with his intro poem:

Nine Horses: Poems
I get up from the tangled bed and go outside,
a bird leaving its nest,
a snail taking a holiday from its shell,

but only to stand on the lawn,
an ordinary insomniac
amid the growth systems of garden and woods.

If I were younger, I might be thinking
about something I heard at a party,
about an unusual car,

or the press of Saturday night,
but as it is, I am simply conscious,
an animal in pajamas,

sensing only the pale humidity
of the night and the slight zephyrs
that stir the tops of the trees.

The dog has followed me out
and stands a little ahead,
her nose lifted as if she were inhaling

the tall white flowers,
visible tonight in the darkened garden,
and there was something else I wanted to tell you,

something about the warm orange light
in the windows of the house,
but now I'm wondering if you are even listening

and why I bother to tell you these things
that will never make a difference,
flecks of ash, tiny chops of ice.

But this is all I want to do--
tell you that up in the woods
a few night birds were calling,

the grass was cold and wet on my bare feet,
and that at one point, the moon,
looking like the top of Shakespeare's

famous forehead,
appeared, quite unexpectedly,
illuminating a band of moving clouds.

Ah!  Is this what poetry is all about?  Here I've been, missing out on something fabulous.  These guys know how to express a thought, don't they?


  1. And I just ordered the anthology The Rattle Bag today. Hurray for expanding horizons!

  2. I love Billy Collins (especially his collection Questions About Angels). Have you read any of Edward Hirsch or Tony Copeland? You might like them as well.

    I haven't read any Wendell Berry ... will look for him tomorrow night at the library.

  3. Oh, I like Wendell Berry! I read a book of his poems called Given last year--it was actually one of the first books I blogged about. I also read one of his stories called The Memory of Old Jack, which was good too (but I read it in pre-blogging days).

  4. JoAnn, The Rattle Bag looks good! Looking forward to hearing what you think about it.

    Melissa, thanks for the recommendations. I'm really enjoying Billy Collins. I'll look into Edward Hirsch and Tony Copeland.

    Kathy, that's good to know...I'll go look up your review!

  5. Love "Night Letter to the Reader" by Billy Collins. Just read it last night. Happy National Poetry Month 2011.


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