Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)


Poem by Billy Collins

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...
-Jacques Crickillon
read full text »

Comments about Litany by Billy Collins

  • Anonymous (5/7/2020 11:33:00 AM)

    Rate this poem from 1-10. I want to see the different opinions you all have.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Dad? ? (4/8/2019 11:40:00 PM)

    Have you seen me?

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Susan Wallis (1/21/2019 1:09:00 PM)

    Has anyone connected this poem to Poem Number LXXXIII in Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal, stanza number 6?(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Paresh ChakraParesh Chakra (11/28/2018 4:31:00 AM)

    It is my favorite poem(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Louann O’Bannion (7/26/2018 7:04:00 AM)

    I love the poem, the way it surprises you with the “you are nots”. The reading of the poem, however, was horrible. Totally expressionless. Computer generated sounds?(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Joseph Pedulla (12/14/2017 11:39:00 PM)


    https: // usp=sharing(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Joseph Pedulla (12/14/2017 7:22:00 AM)


    https: // ReportedReply

    4 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Marc Pearsall (3/26/2017 9:41:00 AM)

    I love this poem because Billy takes the traditional poetry to task. He illustrates just how ridiculous most poetry is by showing us how ridiculous it can be.
    I love it.(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Joseph Pedulla (10/25/2016 7:32:00 PM)

    billy collins is to poetry what Thomas Kinkade was to painting- nothing but fluff and sugar. All is simple and bright and happy! Yay! ! ! This poem is as silly as the thought that generated it. The worst line is the needless repetition of the There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air. There's always that hyper hip tendency from Collins, the need to write down to the audience so as to fit into a modish little thimble space! I have advice for Collins: GET LARGE! ! ! ! ! SAY SOMETHING TO SHAKE US TO OUR ROOTS! ! ! ! ! HURT US! ! ! ! ! LACERATE US! ! ! ! ! LANCE THE BOIL OF OUR LETHARGIC LACK OF SENSIBILITY, BUT DO SOMETHING LARGE! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Stop dicing about in the garden with your little trowel and seeds and yellow sunhat. It's sickening.(Report)Reply

    Kristen(12/13/2017 1:37:00 AM)

    And you think poetry shouldn't be fluff and sugar? Silly and fun and truthful all at once? I hope I never have to meet you in real life because you sound like a DRAG.

    Rod MendietaRod Mendieta(12/18/2016 11:29:00 AM)

    Oh, come on Joseph, there's room enough in Poetry for the Billy Collinses of the world.
    Sometimes I content myself with a slice of dry apple. Other times I crave a full blown Alsatian Bacon and Onion Tart.

    7 person liked.
    32 person did not like.
  • 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

    Joseph Pedulla(10/25/2016 7:23:00 PM)

    If it's not a poem the moment the poet types or writes the last punctuation mark or letter, it will not BECOME a poem merely by being read by a bunch of elastic-minded dunderheads. The poet makes meaning; it is our purpose to discover that meaning. Stay with us, Major Tom.

    22 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • 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

    14 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
  • 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

    12 person liked.
    39 person did not like.
  • 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

    41 person liked.
    22 person did not like.
  • 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

    37 person liked.
    24 person did not like.
  • Nobody Jones (1/7/2010 1:34:00 AM)

    i really really
    this love poem

    15 person liked.
    39 person did not like.
  • 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

    57 person liked.
    38 person did not like.
  • 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

    33 person liked.
    22 person did not like.

Litany Score Card

User Rating:
3,8 / 5 (110 votes)17