Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

I Go Back To The House For A Book - Poem by Billy Collins

I turn around on the gravel
and go back to the house for a book,
something to read at the doctor’s office,
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Comments about I Go Back To The House For A Book by Billy Collins

  • (10/25/2016 12:48:00 PM)

    I go back to the house for a book
    I have grown tired of Billy Collins for some time now. In this poem, as in so many others of his, he takes a simple fleeting thought we've all had a million times and works it up into an artificial and unmerited verbal lather. It's very annoying. Reading the poem, one gets the thought that the original impetus for the poem- or what passes for one- was hardly worth even the thinking, much less the verbiage hung onto it. It's annoying, the thought that we are being asked to spend so much time for so little aesthetic profit. And the language is simplistic because the thought is simplistic. Come on, Billy! I expect more than this from a poet laureate! (Report) Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (4/28/2016 8:22:00 AM)

    Thanks, Michael, for the correct full version of the poem! (box below) (Report) Reply

  • (1/31/2014 1:54:00 AM)

    .......what an incredible write for the love poems of Ovid... (Report) Reply

    Joseph Pedulla (10/25/2016 12:54:00 PM)

    Yes, what an imagination- though that could be taken two ways, can't it? I think his imagination leads him into untruths! The idea that a ghost man loses something by not having turned back is simply a magician's illusion. Why? Because the poet turned back! ! ! He cannot be two people at once! Frost proved that in The Road Not Taken. Collins' poem is the bastard child of Frost's, and it is not a very good theft, even at that! For poems to have real aesthetic merit, they must be grounded in truth, not some airy trickery of imagination.

  • (8/13/2009 1:28:00 PM)

    I Go Back To The House For A Book (Correct full version)

    Billy Collins

    I turn around on the gravel
    and go back to the house for a book,
    something to read at the doctor's office,
    and while I am inside, running the finger
    of inquisition along a shelf,
    another me that did not bother
    to go back to the house for a book
    heads out on his own,
    rolls down the driveway,
    and swings left toward town,
    a ghost in his ghost car,
    another knot in the string of time,
    a good three minutes ahead of me —
    a spacing that will now continue
    for the rest of my life.

    Sometimes I think I see him
    a few people in front of me on a line
    or getting up from a table
    to leave the restaurant just before I do,
    slipping into his coat on the way out the door.
    But there is no catching him,
    no way to slow him down
    and put us back in synch,
    unless one day he decides to go back
    to the house for something,
    but I cannot imagine
    for the life of me what that might be.

    He is out there always before me,
    blazing my trail, invisible scout,
    hound that pulls me along,
    shade I am doomed to follow,
    my perfect double,
    only bumped an inch into the future,
    and not nearly as well-versed as I
    in the love poems of Ovid —
    I who went back to the house
    that fateful winter morning and got the book.
    (Report) Reply

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