Monday' by Billy Collins

A Friday Poem about poetry from one of the planet's most popular living poets, Billy Collins.

18/03/2016
3 minutes to read

Read a poem about poetry from one of the planet's most popular living poets and the former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. 

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.

The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.

Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlight of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.

The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.

By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.

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.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.

I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman's heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.


Find out more about World Poetry Day here.

The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems

by Billy Collins

Book cover for 9781447231059

Billy Collins's tone is inimitable. Drawled and knowing, yet without a hint of world-weariness or cynicism, he fearlessly addresses the reader as friend and intimate -- and comrade, inviting them to square up to the various collective crises of the bald ape in the 21st century. Collins remains the only poet who can write about the next-to-nothing of our lives, the little boredoms, habits and frustrations of our daily and domestic existence, revealing their true importance and meaning -- and demonstrating that the same historical and cosmic forces bear upon them as upon the great events of the age.