I am a relative newcomer to the poetry of Billy Collins, but thanks to an admiring fan, I was lent a copy of his collection Sailing Alone Around the Room which was an extremely readable, entertaining and at times even hilarious read and so when I saw this new collection was coming out I requested it.
Who even knew that one could study for a PhD in Romantic Poetry? Does that make him of Doctor of Love I wonder?
His poems speak of ordinary things but steer clear of cliché, and Aimless Love as a title for this collection of collections as well as some new poems, seems perfectly apt for all manner of common things he appreciates and shares with us.
Aimless Love brings together selected poems from previous collections as well as some new poems
Here are a few extracts from moments of pure joy in reading Billy Collins Aimless Love:
I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-
lying around the house because
might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely
when you twisted the lid down
on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are
Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe
behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
And who could not be tempted to read and understand more of this familiar relationship between the poet and his parents in:
In a rush this weekday morning,
I tap the horn as I speed past the
where my parents lie buried
side by side under a smooth slab
And this line from a poem called
Just think –
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a
wall to stare at.
There are other fabulous poems like The Great American Poem, Horoscopes for the Dead, and Ode to a Desk Lamp.
But just as good as reading his poetry is listening to him read aloud, he has a melodic voice that lulls the listener into a kind of warm familial comfort, his words caress like a gentle tide of steaming bath water with the scent of Cedarwood. Well, perhaps if you close your eyes while listening, like I do.
Here he is reading just a few days ago, the title poem to this collection Aimless Love, so sit back, close your eyes, listen and be soothed:
Note: This book was an Advance Reader Copy, provided by the publisher via NetGalley.