The first line will not go away
though the middle ones will disappear,
and the third, like the first, is bound to get more play.
Examples of this type are written every day,
and whether uplifting or drear,
that first line will just not go away.
It seems some lines have the right of way.
It's their job to reappear,
for example, the third, designed to get more play.
Whether you squawk like an African Grey
or sing sweetly to the inner ear,
the line you wrote first will just not go away.
You may compose all night and day
under a bare lightbulb or a crystal chandelier,
but line number three must get more play.
How can a poet hope to go wildly astray
or sing out like a romantic gondolier
when the first line will not go away
and the third always has the final say?
©Billy Collins, 2013
What fun to have a new collection of poems from four earlier volumes that includes a nice serving of new poems, too! Here are some highlights of the new poems:
Besides this villanelle, there is a surprising sonnet and an Ode to a Desk Lamp.
Collins talks (sometimes back) to Li Po, Antonín Dvořák, people (and ducks) who suggest poem topics, Keats and Mother Nature.
The poems will take you to Nebraska, Central Park, Flying Point Beach, France, Rome, Florida and West Texas, among other destinations.
I think this book will be my birthday present to me, and on my birthday weekend, I plan to stay curled up under the covers for hours and hours, revisiting old favorites and savoring all of the new poems.
Jama has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.