The Trouble with Poetry: A Poem of Explanation Billy Collins The trouble with poetry, I realized as I walked along a beach one night -- cold Florida sand under my bare feet, a show of stars in the sky -- the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry, more guppies crowding the fish tank, more baby rabbits hopping out of their mothers into the dewy grass. And how will it ever end? unless the day finally arrives when we have compared everything in the world to everything else in the world, and there is nothing left to do but quietly close our notebooks and sit with our hands folded on our desks. Poetry fills me with joy and I rise like a feather in the wind. Poetry fills me with sorrow and I sink like a chain flung from a bridge. But mostly poetry fills me with the urge to write poetry, to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame to appear at the tip of my pencil. And along with that, the longing to steal, to break into the poems of others with a flashlight and a ski mask. And what an unmerry band of thieves we are, cut-purses, common shoplifters, I thought to myself as a cold wave swirled around my feet and the lighthouse moved its megaphone over the sea, which is an image I stole directly from Lawrence Ferlinghetti -- to be perfectly honest for a moment -- the bicycling poet of San Francisco whose little amusement park of a book I carried in a side pocket of my uniform up and down the treacherous halls of high school.
I agree that poetry encourages the writing of more poetry. That’s why April has been such an inspirational month for me the past 9-10 years. I started out this past April with a bang, but life has a way changing as we all know. I wrote the following poem the day after we got the first news – the first inkling that things were about to change. I ended up keeping two volumes from the old set of Childcraft Encyclopedias. #1- Poems and Rhymes and #10 – Make and Do. The rest are gone, along with probably 1/2 of my household possessions. Sometimes you just have to keep the important stuff and let go of the rest. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.
Can't remember when I first felt inspired to write a poem myself But I do remember some poems of my childhood From Childcraft: The How and Why Library Volume One Poems and Rhymes I laughed at the Purple Cow and the limericks I met characters like little Tommy Tucker And Polly who put the kettle on And Mistress Mary who was quite contrary I chanted Pease Porridge Hot and Jack Be Nimble Was introduced to the joyous words of Robert Louis Stevenson And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Whose poem about the little girl with the little curl Was one my father always quoted to me And I did the same for my curly headed daughter And now over fifty years later I am packing those books up to carry with me once more Because I just can’t bear to part with them
Little Miss Muffet
sat on a tuffet
eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
and sat down beside her.
She ate him too.
Oh to have the courage of the Miss Muffet in my brother’s version! I don’t want to eat any spiders, just my fears.