Billy Collins

Billy Collins Poems

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
...

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
...

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
...

The neighbors' dog will not stop barking.
He is barking the same high, rhythmic bark
that he barks every time they leave the house.
They must switch him on on their way out.
...

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon
...

Smokey the Bear heads
into the autumn woods
with a red can of gasoline
and a box of wooden matches.
...

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
...

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
...

You know the parlor trick.
wrap your arms around your own body
and from the back it looks like
someone is embracing you
...

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
...

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
...

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.
...

In most self-portraits it is the face that dominates:
Cezanne is a pair of eyes swimming in brushstrokes,
Van Gogh stares out of a halo of swirling darkness,
Rembrant looks relieved as if he were taking a breather
...

14.

Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.
...

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
...

I have never been fishing on the Susquehanna
or on any river for that matter
to be perfectly honest.
...

Tonight the moon is a cracker,
with a bite out of it
floating in the night,
...

19.

They say you can jinx a poem
if you talk about it before it is done.
If you let it out too early, they warn,
your poem will fly away,
...

And I start wondering how they came to be blind.
If it was congenital, they could be brothers and sister,
and I think of the poor mother
brooding over her sightless young triplets.
...

Billy Collins Biography

(born William James Collins) is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida. Collins was recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004-2006. Early Years Collins was born in New York City to William and Katherine Collins. Katherine Collins was a nurse who stopped working to raise the couple's only child. Mrs. Collins had the ability to recite verses on almost any subject, which she often did, and cultivated in her young son the love of words, both written and spoken. Billy Collins attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and received a B.A. (English) from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963 and received his M.A. and Ph.D in English from the University of California, Riverside. His professors at Riverside included Victorian scholar and poet Robert Peters. In 1975 Collins founded The Mid Atlantic Review with his good friend and co-editor, Michael Shannon. Career Collins is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where he joined the faculty in 1968 and has taught for over thirty years. Additionally, he is a founding Advisory Board member of the CUNY Institute for Irish-American Studies at Lehman College. He also has taught and served as a visiting writer at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York as well as teaching workshops across the U.S. and in Ireland. Collins is a member of the faculty of SUNY Stonybrook Southampton College, where he teaches poetry workshops. Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate in 2001 and held the title until 2003. Collins served as Poet Laureate for the State of New York from 2004 until 2006. Collins has been named Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute in Winter Park, Florida, an affiliate of Rollins College. He is on the editorial board at The Alaska Quarterly Review, not actively involved since 2000. He is on the advisory board at the Southern Review, and is similarly named in other journals As U.S. Poet Laureate, Collins read his poem The Names at a special joint session of the United States Congress on September 6, 2002, held to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Though, unlike their British counterparts, U.S. poets laureate are not asked or expected to write occasional poetry, Collins was asked by the Librarian of Congress to write a poem especially for that event. Collins initially refused to read "The Names" in public, though he has read it two times in public since 2002. He vows not to include it in any of his books, refusing to capitalize in any way on the 9/11 attacks. However, "The Names" was included in the The Poets Laureate Anthology, put out by the Library of Congress, for which Collins wrote the foreword. The only published version of "The Names," it contains a number of regrettable typographical errors. As Poet Laureate, Collins instituted the program Poetry 180 for high schools. Collins chose 180 poems for the program and the accompanying book, Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry-- one for each day of the school year. Collins edited a second anthology, 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day to refresh the supply of available poems. The program is online, and poems are available there for no charge. In 1997, Collins recorded The Best Cigarette, a collection of 34 of his poems, that would become a bestseller. In 2005, the CD was re-released under a Creative Commons license, allowing free, non-commercial distribution of the recording. He also recorded two of his poems for the audio versions of Garrison Keillor's collection Good Poems (2002). Collins has appeared on Keillor's radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, numerous times, where he gained a portion of his large following. In 2005, Collins recorded "Billy Collins Live: A Performance at the Peter Norton Symphony Space" in New York City. Collins was introduced by his friend, actor Bill Murray. Billy Collins has been called "The most popular poet in America" by the New York Times. When he moved from the University of Pittsburgh Press to Random House, the advance he received shocked the poetry world — a six-figure sum for a three-book deal, virtually unheard of in poetry. The deal secured for Collins through his literary agent, Chris Calhoun of Sterling Lord Literistic, with the editor Daniel Menaker, remained the talk of the poetry world, and indeed the literary world, for quite some time. Over the years, the U.S. magazine Poetry has awarded Collins several prizes in recognition of poems they publish. During the 1990s, Collins won five such prizes. The magazine also selected him as "Poet of the Year" in 1994. In 2005 Collins was the first annual recipient of its Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts and in 1993, from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Awards and honors 1986, Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts 1983, Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts 1991, National Poetry Series publication prize - winner, Questions About Angels 1992, New York Public Library 'Literary Lion' 1993, Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation 1994, Poetry Magazine - Poet of the Year 1995, Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, Academy of American Poets - shortlist, The Art of Drowning 2001, US Poet Laureate 2002, US Poet Laureate 2004, New York State Poet Laureate 2005, Mark Twain Award for Humor in Poetry)

The Best Poem Of Billy Collins

On Turning Ten

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light-
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

Billy Collins Comments

Hsinhui Wang 11 June 2010

I just read one of his poem...I just want to say, May the truth reveal to human mankind...There is NO true religion on earth. There is only true relationship.

110 287 Reply
Michael Shepherd 11 August 2009

There’s a certain class of book I take with me to my pm nap: worth dipping into; more pleasurable for taking time over reading to its end; that leaves no shame when I doze off and it falls into my lap; a sweet waking dream; today it’s Billy Collins: ex- Poet Laureate or should that be Poet ex-Laureate since he’s still writing in that laid-back manner that goes with recliner chairs and a nap that’s natural; for me, he’s still Laureate, anyway; and in my dreamy state, I like to indulge in an undemanding game, best played between the waking and that dreaming state which Hindus name as swapna; and I like the name; (its alternative, prajna, sounds too much like work) : the game is, nail the character in just two lines, no more, of Shakes-pa-herian pastiche: Methinks he hath a wily, wayward charm, under guise of which he arrows heav’n.

161 190 Reply
Katie Finley 12 July 2006

I saw Billy Collins when he came to Boston College and the occasion marked one of the most special moments in my (albeit brief) lifetime. If you get the opportunity to see him, take it! My favourite poems are 'On Turning Ten' and 'Love'. He is one of the poets I love best.

156 90 Reply
Joe Biden 20 August 2021

vote for me

3 2 Reply
No 10 November 2021

No! ! ! ! ! !

1 0 Reply
Mr worldwidee 20 August 2021

This poem is wierd

1 0 Reply
your mom 10 November 2021

no

0 1 Reply
Big 14 February 2021

billy collins can in my

0 1 Reply
samuel hyde 01 October 2019

peace of peaceeeeee

5 6 Reply
Benjamin Uy 24 June 2019

The neighbors dog will not stop barking that’s why I I never kept a gun in my house, Great fantastic beautiful poem by the master, Billy Collins aaaa a++

8 7 Reply

Billy Collins Popularity

Billy Collins Popularity

Close
Error Success