Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Litany - Poem by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon
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Comments about Litany by Billy Collins

  • Rookie - 0 Points T P (7/7/2015 8:30:00 PM)

    Feels arbitrary and playful, and
    random while still intentional. I think it's not what he meant, but what you experience of it. I think he himself would wish for us to experience it in as many ways as we can, open to all of those ridiculous or insightful and definitely varied ways that it can be felt...and even experience it again through each other's interpretations. And that is when it becomes a poem. Before that, when it is just what he meant and only what he meant, then it may be a poem, but it isn't really poetry. It's fun to read it as a love poem, or as a love poem slightly sarcastic to his wife, or as making fun of the tendency to be overly symbolic to the point of incoherency, or taken literally as an attempt to be symbolic in love. It reads all those ways. I tend to feel that, if meaningful, the language is such a bombardment of symbols it could be saying anything-much like being both bread and knife... (Report) Reply

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  • Gold Star - 5,701 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (9/28/2014 5:32:00 PM)

    I get the impression that the poet is saying that each of us isn't everything but we play our roles in the whole picture..good poem a ten from me a share on Facebook and I can see why he was Poet Laureate.. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Student A (4/30/2013 2:39:00 AM)

    Actually, the poem is a comparison how the characteristics and personalities of Collins and Crickillon, not really a love story. Maybe the two were friends in the past (and in the present) but I know this is not a love story. I see the poem this way, I don't know if you will too, but the poem starts by comparing Crickillon to many non-living objects, in other words, metaphorically. Then it does the same thing to Collins, eventually comparing them two by stating how Collins is not the bread and the knife and that Crickillon will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and - somehow- the wine. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Peachy Keen (2/15/2011 8:59:00 PM)

    I really loved this poem when my creative writing teacher had us read it. I fell in love with Billy Collins' writing. But this one, yes is about his wife, and yes is a love poem, and yes is completely satirical about symbolization of love.
    I absolutely love them. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Gina Sanchez (5/22/2010 1:25:00 AM)

    Ah, Shannon, come on! A little love surely? ! I agree with you though. It is more comical to me than anything. He is totally making fun metaphors by writing a 'litany' of them. He has a good time with them as he pokes a little fun at (I presume) his wife. It is more about his observations of the relationship than love. He loves her, yes, but that isn't the point. The pine scented air line is hilarious example of the funny style. He portrays himself as such a romantic! Gotta love it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Nobody Jones (1/7/2010 1:34:00 AM)

    i really really
    love
    this love poem
    about
    love (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Shannon Swanson (9/14/2008 8:43:00 PM)

    This poem isn't about love at all - he's making fun of the overuse of objects as symbols. It's basically showing how symbolism isn't symbolic when over done, not how he loves someone. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Fifi Trixiebelle (4/3/2007 12:47:00 PM)

    This is one of my all time favorite love poems. Billy Collins is brilliant. (Report) Reply








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