Sunday, May 15, 2011

Litany by Billy Collins

Even the jaded and ineffectual person that is currently me, had to smile at this one. 

  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.


  1. Thrilled to be BACK-

    Warm Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral




  2. I'm so glad you found that so we could both read and watch it this afternoon. The little boy is mesmerizing in his rendition of a slightly scary poem.

    Thank you, my dear
    and a hug :-)

  3. Cool. Take care.

  4. Susan - I do you find it slightly scary? :-)

  5. We are what we are and who we are and to be known this is a delightful miracle.

    Collins is really amazing. He read from his works once a few years back in Waterbury. Pure delight.

    I am glad you are back.

  6. Because when I clicked on the highlighted words I was sent to a site that offered me free coupons :-)

  7. i love the room behind this sparky little guy... books askew on shelves, a piano, toys everywhere. this is a house overflowing with living, and thinking, and creativity.

  8. Very interesting (intriguing but not scary to me) poem and cute reading.

  9. SB and Cloudia - thanks, as always. :-)

    Susan - oh, yessss! That evil pop-op!

    Sandy - I love Billy Collins too. His poetry is so accessible without suffering in its quality and depth one little bit. At least in my opinion, though I am no poetry scholar.

    gfid - a stimulating environment is a must for the little ones! I noticed that while the little boy was reciting the poem, his hands were busy putting something together. Knowing young children very well, he is probably very active and wouldn't stand still for the camera, so they occupied him with something simultaneously. He must be reading, too. Probably taught himself, which is the way it usually happens with gifted kids.

    Yogi - I find the boy's phrasing to be really nice. All cuteness aside, I actually like this reading better than Billy Collins' own reading of the same poem.

    Stewart - I found it magical but then again, small things have a huge impact on me. I must be easy to please! :-)

  10. Mama - if the little guy is allowed and encouraged, he could be a future poet laureate. :-)

  11. I'm not sure what I loved more - his recitation or his full, curled, and moist lower lip. and the squeal at the finish was pretty damn delightful too.
    Gina, you're the cat's meow.

  12. Oh, Becky! Yes! Like a cute little pup! :-D Deeeeelightful. xxoo (the two kisses are one on each cheek, Portuguese style. :-)


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