Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Musing on some vacation moments

Sunset, Kalmus Beach, Hyannis: Photo by CP

In another 24 hours my vacation will be over and I'll be back at home in Concord.  Time, then, to look back over these days away and muse upon them.

As I'd hoped, my vacation days have been quiet, lazy, relaxing, refreshing and beautifully uneventful.

Aside from an interruption of hurricane proportions, the weather has been just what one might have ordered if the Divine Meteorologist was given to taking orders on the climate.

Three "moments" of this time stand out for me.  One was already the subject of my Monday Morning Offering a week ago: the gift, the delight of fresh basil.

Another "moment" came in the hours without power on Sunday as Irene skirted the Cape.  I'll write about that in a day or two.

The third "moment" has stretched over my whole time here.  Upon arriving I went shopping for some new poetry to read and came across Ballistics, a collection of poems by Billy Collins.  Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Poet Laureate of New York State from 2004 to 2006.  He was, however, a new poet for me and I've returned to his book any number of times these past couple of weeks.

Collins is a delight to read.  His writing is thoroughly unassuming and on account of that, wholly inviting of the reader to enter into the work with him.  That experience, the one these poems, this poet, offers the reader is likely better had than explained.

In not taking himself too seriously, Collins befriends the reader who ends up a sort of co-conspirator in the work.  He's a magician with the simplest of words and the trick is how he allows the reader to "see how it's done" without at all making a fuss about the secret, or keeping it, or giving it away.

Some of these poems concern poetry and in some sense, all of these poems are concerned with poetry.   And reading through this book I found myself thinking again and again, these poems are not as simple as they seem, and yes... these poems are as simple as they seem.  As I said, all of this is an experience to be had rather than explained.

I've been looking for one poem from this book to share with you, that you might taste the experience Collins offers.  No one poem suffices for this task but if this piece whets your appetite, I'll be pleased:

A Dog on His Master

As young as I look
I am growing older faster than he,
seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages
to cross his mind,
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

- Billy Collins in Ballistics


 

 
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1 comment:

Philomena Ewing said...

I love Billy Collins and your description of how he "does it" and like all geniuses he makes it seem so easy.
This is a new poem for me - I don't have a dog any more but I really do miss having one - maybe when I am too old to travel any more I will get one to walk with me into my old age and this poem will take on an even more poignant meaning.
Blessings