Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“America’s favorite poet.”—The Wall Street Journal
From the two-term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins comes his first volume of new and selected poems in twelve years. Aimless Love combines fifty new poems with generous selections from his four most recent books—Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistics, and Horoscopes for the Dead. Collins’s unmistakable voice, which brings together plain speech with imaginative surprise, is clearly heard on every page, reminding us how he has managed to enrich the tapestry of contemporary poetry and greatly expand its audience. His work is featured in top literary magazines such as The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Atlantic, and he sells out reading venues all across the country. Appearing regularly in The Best American Poetry series, his poems appeal to readers and live audiences far and wide and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. By turns playful, ironic, and serious, Collins’s poetry captures the nuances of everyday life while leading the reader into zones of inspired wonder. In the poet’s own words, he hopes that his poems “begin in Kansas and end in Oz.” Touching on the themes of love, loss, joy, and poetry itself, these poems showcase the best work of this “poet of plenitude, irony, and Augustan grace” (The New Yorker).
Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,
carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.
It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.
So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:
stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.
Praise for Aimless Love
“[Billy Collins] is able, with precious few words, to make me cry. Or laugh out loud. He is a remarkable artist. To have such power in such an abbreviated form is deeply inspiring.”—J. J. Abrams, The New York Times Book Review
“His work is poignant, straightforward, usually funny and imaginative, also nuanced and surprising. It bears repeated reading and reading aloud.”—The Plain Dealer
“Collins has earned almost rock-star status. . . . He knows how to write layered, subtly witty poems that anyone can understand and appreciate—even those who don’t normally like poetry. . . . The Collins in these pages is distinctive, evocative, and knows how to make the genre fresh and relevant.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“Collins’s new poems contain everything you've come to expect from a Billy Collins poem. They stand solidly on even ground, chiseled and unbreakable. Their phrasing is elegant, the humor is alive, and the speaker continues to stroll at his own pace through the plainness of American life.”—The Daily Beast
“[Collins’s] poetry presents simple observations, which create a shared experience between Collins and his readers, while further revealing how he takes life’s everyday humdrum experiences and makes them vibrant.”—The Times Leader
From the Hardcover edition.
language will stop, the horse we have ridden all our lives rearing up at the edge of a dizzying cliff. The word that was in the beginning and the word that was made flesh— those and all the other words will cease. Even now, reading you on this trellised porch, how can I describe a sun that will shine after death? But it is enough to frighten me into paying more attention to the world’s day-moon, to sunlight bright on water or fragmented in a grove of trees, and to look more closely
love all three words in your name, not to mention the deep, white sand and the shorebirds on their thin legs facing into the wind along that low stretch between the ocean and the bay. How satisfying it is to be even within bicycling distance of you, though it’s dangerous to ride at the edge of these roads. Thoreau had his cabin near a pond. Virginia Woolf stood on the shore of the River Ouse, and here I am writing all this down not very far at all—maybe twenty minutes by taxi if the
my drenched body with fresh warm water scooped from a marble basin. But it was not until he sudsed me behind my ears and between my toes that I felt myself filling with gratitude the way a cloud fills with rain, the way a glass pipe slowly fills with smoke. In silence I thanked the man who scrubbed the bottoms of my feet. I thanked the history of the Turkish bath and the long chain of bathmen standing unshaven, arms folded, waiting for the next customer to come through the swinging
said, is the lanyard I made at camp. And here, I wish to say to her now, is a smaller gift—not the archaic truth that you can never repay your mother, but the rueful admission that when she took the two-tone lanyard from my hands, I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless, worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even. Boy Shooting at a Statue It was late afternoon, the beginning of winter, a light snow, and I was the only one in the small park
been seen earlier leaving the house with a suitcase and a tightly furled umbrella. The Revenant I am the dog you put to sleep, as you like to call the needle of oblivion, come back to tell you this simple thing: I never liked you—not one bit. When I licked your face, I thought of biting off your nose. When I watched you toweling yourself dry, I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap. I resented the way you moved, your lack of animal grace, the way you would sit in a chair to