Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

On Turning Ten - Poem by Billy Collins

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.


Comments about On Turning Ten by Billy Collins

  • (11/16/2018 10:34:00 AM)


    go commit not able to breath (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (11/15/2018 10:01:00 PM)


    If this is from the point of view of the 10 year old they are really dark... (Report) Reply

  • (11/5/2018 12:00:00 PM)


    Holy flippity flip I found this
    I saw this on one of those trashy Instagram posts
    (Report) Reply

    (11/6/2018 11:17:00 AM)

    Why do you all hate me so much?

  • (9/10/2018 11:45:00 AM)


    this is a life poem it is relatable to alot of people (Report) Reply

  • (8/20/2018 10:11:00 AM)


    yall suck how do not know what this poem means theres a deeper meaning to this and billy collins writes better poems then u commenters can ok (Report) Reply

  • (7/26/2018 10:41:00 AM)


    why are y'all all commenting saying something about trash. just say you simply like the poem and be done with it. And if you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all! It's not nice to poorly comment on an artist that's currently alive and doesn't need this type of hatred. (Report) Reply

  • (5/29/2018 2:43:00 PM)


    you trash billy 😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎 (Report) Reply

  • (5/29/2018 9:27:00 AM)


    i am coming for you billy (Report) Reply

  • (5/25/2018 9:40:00 AM)


    i like this trash jjajajajajajajjajaajajajjajajajajajaajajajajajajajaaajjjaaaaa (Report) Reply

  • (5/24/2018 11:12:00 AM)


    This poem is good I guess...: / but doesn't make sense speacially when it says Dark blue speed, like what the flip is thta? (Report) Reply

  • (4/26/2018 9:44:00 AM)


    But rlly this poem is depressing (Report) Reply

  • (3/14/2018 6:17:00 PM)


    Just sent this out to my men's group. Perhaps it will help them remember that the child is father to the man. (Report) Reply

  • Damion Hamilton (3/10/2018 6:01:00 PM)


    As I walk through the universe in my sneakers. Is powerful line of for me. (Report) Reply

    (5/24/2018 9:21:00 AM)

    It is also a powerful line for me.

    (5/24/2018 9:21:00 AM)

    It is also a powerful line for me..

  • (2/12/2018 5:54:00 PM)


    Is this poem free to use for school use? I can’t seem to find the book it is published in. Thank you (Report) Reply

  • (1/17/2018 12:10:00 AM)


    this is dark stuff. I read a few poems this one is a suicide poem. (Report) Reply

    (5/25/2018 9:39:00 AM)

    i like this trash

  • (1/9/2018 9:05:00 AM)


    this is a boy that is turning ten and he was sad of turning a big number (Report) Reply

  • (1/9/2018 8:35:00 AM)


    its a good poem my friends like it (Report) Reply

  • (12/15/2017 2:22:00 PM)


    this is about someone going under mid life crisis (Report) Reply

  • (12/15/2017 2:18:00 PM)


    this is essentially a 10 year old going through a mid-life crisis (Report) Reply

  • (12/15/2017 9:18:00 AM)


    Robert, Collins saw no color in speed when he was young, either. But I believe Frost swung birches. Collins never has the ring of truth. Speed is tactile. Our skin feels it. I would bet you not one child in a million refers to the color of speed. And neither does an adult. He's a lightweight and a sham, and he has hoodwinked an entire nation by being easy. I'm not going along for the fatuous ride. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: soldier, believe, today, light, remember, beautiful, house, tree, dark, time, friend



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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