Wednesday, June 4, 2008

There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

Here's a nice poem I'm teaching today, special for you.

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.

Billy Collins

8 comments:

anjiaoshi said...

One of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. See also "On Turning Ten," "Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House" and "Victoria's Secret."

Tom Panelas said...

Very nice. Funny, too. Kind of turns courtship-poetry conventions on their head, eh?

I may be the rank or the file--I can't tell for sure--but I'm certainly not both.

Anonymous said...

I am(!) ... the lindbergh baby.

gurdonark said...

Billy Collins writes such delightful things--always so accessible, and so well-crafted. Deceptively simple.

Anonymous said...

doesnt rhyme

jason_krienke@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Another poet with an exceptional ability to infuse his poetry with humor was Philip Levine. His "Messieur Degas Teaches Art & Science at Durfy Intermediate School 1942" is one of my favorites.

Davy Do

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Elizabeth,
I have just discoverd your blog (i am a chess player) and i really liked your handout on the french/bb5 sicilian. Can you post a handout or something against the double king pawn openings?

Thank You!

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Ms., please: I'm a feminist.

Why don;t you email me, last anonymous, and I'll send you some double e pawn stuff. (white / black? sharp / strategic? mainline/ offbeat?)
Elizabeth