Random thoughts from an animal-loving French prof / mom of three on things she finds beautiful, funny, sad, or strange.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Today's poem is by Billy Collins, former U.S. Poet Laureate, loved by pretty much all who have taken the time to read him. I was fortunate enough to hear him at our university back when we were still a college, and I was instantly charmed. He is often praised for being "accessible," but I think this is just shorthand for the fact that his poetry is grounded in the everyday. It might seem ordinary, yet it's anything but. 

Case in point: the following poem, which happens to be the first thing I hear when I plug my phone into my car. I pretty much have it memorized, as I often wait for it to end before switching to my musical selection du jour. I love the humor of the unexpected combinations and the way piece puts new words to that emotional experience called love. Click here to hear it read by the author ("Adage" starts at minute 10, but the whole video is worth every minute). 


When it's late at night and branches
are banging against the windows,
you might think that love is just a matter

of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself
into the fire of someone else,
but it's a little more complicated than that.

It's more like trading the two birds
who might be hiding in that bush
for the one you are not holding in your hand.

A wise man once said that love 
was like forcing a horse to drink
but then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.

Let us be clear about something.
Love is not as simple as getting up
on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emperor's clothes.

No, it's more like the way the pen
feels after it has defeated the sword.
Its a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped stitches.

You look at me through the halo of the last candle
and tell me love is an ill wind
that has no turning, a road that blows no good,

but I am here to remind you,
as our shadows tremble on the walls,
that love is the early bird who is better late than never.

-from Aimless Love, Random House, 2013

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