22 March 2009


Today (22 March) is the birthday of Billy Collins, twice Poet Laureate, who wrote the top-selling book of poetry this century. He laments that the Romantics killed off humor in poetry, unlike Chaucer and Shakespeare who were both ribaud and humorous.

Here are two stanzas from his short poem "Introduction to Poetry" which shows some of his poetic humor:

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.

Perhaps you have read Collins' "Lanyard" (linked below) in which he humorizes (don't we need that sort of word today in our individual and social lexicons?) the boyhood--and girlhood?--practice at camp of fashioning something rather impractical for a parent. I did it--at Vacation Bible School. My mom was so understandingly appreciative of the near useless objects, including a lanyard of which Collins poetizes!

Thank you, poet Billy, for reminding us of the filial-parent relationship of patient love. It is never useless nor impractical.

Here is Billy Collins' reading of "Lanyard":


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