Nine Horsesby Billy Collins
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Nine Horses, Billy Collins’s first book of new poems since Picnic, Lightning in 1998, is the latest curve in the phenomenal trajectory of this poet’s career. Already in his forties when he debuted with a full-length book, The Apple That Astonished Paris, Collins has become the first poet since Robert Frost to combine high critical acclaim with broad popular appeal. And, as if to crown this success, he was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States for 2001–2002, and reappointed for 2002–2003.
What accounts for this remarkable achievement is the poems themselves, quiet meditations grounded in everyday life that ascend effortlessly into eye-opening imaginative realms. These new poems, in which Collins continues his delicate negotiations between the clear and the mysterious, the comic and the elegiac, are sure to sustain and increase his audience of avid readers.
From the Hardcover edition.
—The New Yorker
“A sort of poet not seen since Robert Frost.”
—The Boston Globe
“It is difficult not to be charmed by Collins, and that in itself is a remarkable literary accomplishment.”
—The New York Review of Books
“One appeal of the typical Collins poem is that it’s less able to help you memorize it than to help you remember,
for a little while anyway, your own life.”
—The New York Times Book Review
- Random House Publishing Group
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- Random House
- NOOK Book
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- 2 MB
Read an Excerpt
I wondered about you when you told me never to leave a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches lying around the house because the mice
might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight when you twisted the lid down on the round tin where the matches, you said, are always stowed.
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?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,
the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature for one bright, shining moment suddenly thrust ahead of his time—
now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,
lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants of what once was your house in the country?
In the club car that morning I had my notebook open on my lap and my pen uncapped,
looking every inch the writer right down to the little writer’s frown on my face,
but there was nothing to write about except life and death and the low warning sound of the train whistle.
I did not want to write about the scenery that was flashing past, cows spread over a pasture,
hay rolled up meticulously—
things you see once and will never see again.
But I kept my pen moving by drawing over and over again the face of a motorcyclist in profile—
for no reason I can think of—
a biker with sunglasses and a weak chin,
leaning forward, helmetless,
his long thin hair trailing behind him in the wind.
I also drew many lines to indicate speed,
to show the air becoming visible as it broke over the biker’s face
the way it was breaking over the face of the locomotive that was pulling me toward Omaha and whatever lay beyond Omaha for me and all the other stops to make
before the time would arrive to stop for good.
We must always look at things from the point of view of eternity,
the college theologians used to insist,
from which, I imagine, we would all appear to have speed lines trailing behind us as we rush along the road of the world,
as we rush down the long tunnel of time—
the biker, of course, drunk on the wind,
but also the man reading by a fire,
speed lines coming off his shoulders and his book,
and the woman standing on a beach studying the curve of horizon,
even the child asleep on a summer night,
speed lines flying from the posters of her bed,
from the white tips of the pillowcases,
and from the edges of her perfectly motionless body.
From the Hardcover edition.
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Billy Collins is the author of six collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room; Questions About Angels; The Art of Drowning; and Picnic, Lightning. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York. Collins is the Poet Laureate of the United States.
From the Hardcover edition.
- Somers, New York
- Date of Birth:
- March 22, 1941
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- B.A., Holy Cross College, 1963; Ph.D. in Romantic poetry, University of California at Riverside, 1971
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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So many people do not like poetry because they feel it is too distant and difficult. Metaphors are unclear, one thing means another, images aren't concrete. You've heard the complaints. Billy Collins transcends all that. He could be one of the most accessible poets I've read yet he is not literal nor is he condescending. Reading these poems is a pleasure. Rev.Zak
Billy Collins is the everyman's poet. Regardless of whether or not he'll be remembered a hundred years from now, and regardless of some people's opinion of the content of his verse, he is a good poet. He is one of the few who successfully use humor in his poems. His poems are easy to understand, but still have a literary backing to them. You don't have to have a doctorate in English to understand what he writes, but you can tell Collins is intelligent and well-read. You find yourself chuckling at some poems, and many times wishing you had come up with a phrase or an idea he uses. Read this collection (or his new and selected) and you'll understand why he has the popularity he does.
The sample had not one single sample of the poetry, just the first 11 pages of the book, BEFORE the content of the book started. Not amusing. I like this poet's work, and may buy this book anyway, but from a bricks and mortar store so I can ACTUALLY sample the content.
this is the best thing I have read in a long time! It moves me to write--my new muse!
A solid collection sure to entertain. Odd note: curious lack of "jazz" poems, a subject Billy Collins has written about exuberantly in earlier collections. Could some editor at Random House have suggested their reduction?
The poetry in this book is absolutly awesome. The author is on his way to greatness.
Some writings kinda week, but overall good book. Would really prefer more emotional poetry.