Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lines Lost among Trees

(Flowers on Cottage Table by Eric Ravilious, 1903-
1942, English engraver, artist, and official war painter
during World War II)

A poem not written down can be easily lost. The English poet Gerda Mayer once wrote, “I’ve thought of a poem. I carry it carefully, nervously, in my head . . . in case I should spill some lines before I can put it down.”


These are not the lines that came to me
while walking in the woods
with no pen
and nothing to write on anyway.

They are gone forever,
a handful of coins
dropped through the grate of memory,
along with the ingenious mnemonic

I devised to hold them in place —
all gone and forgotten
before I had returned to the clearing of lawn
in back of our quiet house

with its jars jammed with pens,
its notebooks and reams of blank paper,
its desk and soft lamp,
its table and the light from its windows.

So this is my elegy for them,
those six or eight exhalations,
the braided rope of syntax,
the jazz of the timing,

and the little insight at the end
wagging like the short tail
of a perfectly obedient spaniel
sitting by the door.

This is my envoy to nothing
where I say Go, little poem —
not out into the world of strangers’ eyes,
but off to some airy limbo,

home to lost epics,
unremembered names,
and fugitive dreams
such as the one I had last night,

which, like a fantastic city in pencil,
erased itself
in the bright morning air
just as I was waking up.

~ Billy Collins, born 1941, American poet, appointed poet laureate, 2001-2003


Anonymous said...

very interesting article! I will follow your themes.
Can I subscribe to your posts on Twitter or on your Facebook profile?

maria horvath said...

I am not on Twitter or Facebook, but you can sign up to follow this blog by email or Google. (Go to the column on the right.)