Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Poetry Tuesday: "Forgetfulness" by Billy Collins


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided 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 goodbye
and 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 tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

--Billy Collins



Wonderful Betty, enjoyed the read.

Have a good day.

Teresa Evangeline said...

I love Billy Collins. The way he closes this poem is perfect.

Empty Nester said...

I love the ending of this poem!

My Mind's Eye said...

Great poem...
I've threatened to keep a pen and pad by my bed to write down things I think of in the wee hours...only problem is I'd have to get up to get my glasses to see what to write.
Hugs Madi and Mom

Old Kitty said...

I knew there was a poetic and creative reason why I keep forgetting things, names and places!

A lovely, poem, thanks BB! Take care

Leah J. Utas said...


Beautiful poem. Thanks.

Connie said...

I can certainly relate to this one! :D Have a nice day, Betty.

Macy said...

True! At this stage in my life I can safely say I've forgotten more than I'm ever going to remember...

Out on the prairie said...

Lovely poem, I was with this person a bit yesterday, I forget her name.

Larri said...

Fabulous poem! Thanks for sharing. Happy Tuesday! ☺

Unknown said...

This poem rings so true, it's frightening!

Unknown said...

Beautiful poem and I didn't know Billy until now. Gotta go read his other stuff!

Pearl said...

That was beautiful, Betty.


Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

This one hits a little too close to home.

ds said...

Mr. Collins has quite the way about him, doesn't he? This is lovely. Thank you.

Bill Lisleman said...

I enjoyed it. I didn't know my spleen had corners but I seldom think of my spleen.
Good morning, how's your spleen?
Maybe I should start asking people about their spleen. Good conversation starter.

Talli Roland said...

What a beautiful poem - so poignant.

Brian said...

Seems to me I remember liking it, but I'm not quite sure!

Unknown said...

Wonderful! This last line,---No wonder the moon in the window seems to have driftedout of a love poem that you used to know by heart.---So beautiful!

jenny_o said...

Thank you - I'm so glad to be introduced to this author. I very much like this poem as a wonderful description of both natural forgetfulness and early Alzheimer's when people are still aware of their memory gaps.

And when I went looking for other poems by him, there at the head of the list was "Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House", which you likely already know but I kept thinking, just substitute "crow" for "dog" and BB would get a kick out of this!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

OUch. That hit close to home as I go out into the kitchen to get ... something?

Ms. A said...

This is what I feel like is happening to me. My memories are gone and my brain isn't far behind. It terrifies me.

Sally Wessely said...

I can almost hear him reading this. The poem does hit too close to home. Isn't that last line just the best? It does rather break my heart though.

Thanks for sharing this. I LOVE Billy Collins

Baby Sister said...

Haha. I went to comment, had to help some customers, and came back to comment and had to stop to remember what the post was about. :) I loved this!! Very clever.

Lazarus said...

When people ask me if I read poetry (which they never do, actually) in my mind I say "yes" since I am treated to excellent poems on this blog. Thanks Betts!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I can't say I ever forgot the capital of Paraguay. I just never knew it. Here I go to look it up (so I can forget it).
Happy Tuesday eve, Betty.

Sarah said...

I was thinking A for Alzheimer, S for senile, B for brain dead, But L?

Sueann said...

I loved this poem Betty

Brian (not the cat) said...

I like to think that we don't really forget anything -- it's just that many memories are merely composted, breaking down into reusable mental nutrients that nourish our flowering souls.