Happy Poetry Friday! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)
Last week, I talked about how little I remember of the books I read. I was so grateful for those of you who chimed in and confessed similar experiences. And thank you, too, to Jane Heitman Healy, who shared this wonderful quote with me:
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I thought I’d share a poem I love by Billy Collins called “Forgetfulness.” It fits me perfectly for books, movies, and pretty much everything!
ForgetfulnessThe name of the author is the first to gofollowed obediently by the title, the plot,the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novelwhich suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbordecided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,to a little fishing village where there are no phones.Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbyeand watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,it is not poised on the tip of your tongueor even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.It has floated away down a dark mythological riverwhose name begins with an L as far as you can recallwell on your own way to oblivion where you will join thosewho have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.No wonder you rise in the middle of the nightto look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.No wonder the moon in the window seems to have driftedout of a love poem that you used to know by heart.–Billy Collins, all rights reserved
I’ve heard him read this poem twice live, and it’s fabulous. You can hear him read it at The Poetry Foundation, where I got the poem, here.
I’m on the road this afternoon because I’m speaking at a “Hot Reads for Cold Nights” school literacy celebration. I’ll share about it next week, I hope. Meanwhile, the Poetry Friday Roundup today is with Catherine at Reading to the Core. Happy Poetry Friday!