I mentioned recently that I had ordered Billy Collins’ Picnic, Lightning and a couple of other poetry books as my own Christmas gifts. And in a separate post, we chatted about writing in books and whether it’s a sign of love or a desecration (most, but not all, people vote the former).
So I laughed while reading Picnic, Lightning in Chicago last week and coming across this poem.
by Billy Collins
Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.
Read the rest of the poem here.
It felt a little surreal to be penciling in my notes on a poem about those very notes! But I did. Besides that wonderful opening, I have a smiley face by:
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.
I underlined this whole stanza, which I love:
And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.
And also my favorite two lines:
Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
I love that image, and those lines themselves have stayed with me, knocking on my chest with a delicate resonance! And what is that margin note he’s talking about? You’ll have to read the poem to find out!
What poetry (or other books) did you get for Christmas? Were they gifts from others? Or gifts for yourself (I’m not the ONLY one who did that, right?)? And if you were writing a note in the margin to the author, what would you say?