Aimless Love by Billy Collins

Aimless LoveI 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:

The Country

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?

Artwork by our Allia

Artwork by our Allia

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:

No Time

In a rush this weekday morning,

I tap the horn as I speed past the

cemetery

where my parents lie buried

side by side under a smooth slab

of granite.

And this line from a poem called

Monday

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.

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27 thoughts on “Aimless Love by Billy Collins

    • He is wonderful to listen to and to read and one has to love poetry that relates so well to the mundane everyday life with such honesty and humour. He can make poetry out of nearly any encounter and no doubt has converted a good many people perhaps not so interested in the form to reconsider its potential.

      As a nature and bird/animal/wildlife lover like yourself Valerie, isn’t Aimless Love just delightful. A mindful thinker practicing loving compassion, I think that mouse had good karma to have been discovered by such a soul as he.

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    • Hi Brian, Yes Billy Collins is a wonderful poet, he was born in 1941 in New York and has spent much of his career working in academia whilst continuing to publish poetry that is known for its warmth and humour and is something of a national treasure I believe in the US.

      I do hope you can find a collection or an audio recording of his work, he is a wonderful companion and guaranteed to make you smile.

      Much love Brian

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    • He is a wonderful poet Anne-Marie, and yes Garrison Kellor is up to all sorts, I see his name pop up often, a friend of mine is on his mailing list of daily quotes in The Writers Almanac, which I think it a part of Prairie Home Companion, so I am well used to seeing his name when she occasionally forwards a particularly special daily quote/poem to me.

      You can visit The Writers Almanac here.

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  1. Thanks for this review, Claire. I enjoyed the poems you shared and I will be back to listen to the poet.
    I am planning to review poetry books on my blog soon…

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    • So glad you enjoyed the extracts Julia, none of them are the complete poems, just a taster of his style and humour.

      Do listen to the two minute poem when you have a quiet winding down moment, it reminds us that a poem can be so much more than words on the page.

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    • I do recall reading that one and it seems to be mentioned a lot. He likes to refer to his poetry as being hospitable rather than accessible and I have to agree, it is inviting, reassuring and can make us laugh, just like good company.

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  2. Beautiful review, Claire! This poetry collection looks so beautiful. I loved all the poems you have quoted. The poem ‘Monday’ made me smile. It also made me remember something that I read in Bill Bryson’s ‘At Home‘ – that when transparent windows first came into vogue in England, the government started putting restrictions on how many windows can be there in a house and also started levying taxes on windows! It is so hard to believe that things were so different a century and a half back. I loved this sentence from your review – “his words caress like a gentle tide of steaming bath water with the scent of Cedarwood” – such a beautiful image. One of my reading friends is a big fan of Billy Collins and now after reading your review, I want to try one of his collections. Maybe I will start with this one.

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    • Beautiful thoughtful comments always Vishy! I so look forward to them, they are the unexpected reward of sharing thoughts, thank you for sharing your own gift for words on these pages. 🙂

      What you have read here are mere extracts that I have shared, so if you do come across this collection, you will have the joy of being able to reading the poems in their entirety.

      Yes, I too had heard that fact that the number of windows used to be a determiner of wealth and it also explains why so many were filled in, in many of the older homes and establishments in England. Now they often wish to turn to them back into windows again and that can be difficult sue to heritage laws.

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  4. Billy Collins is adorable. His warmth and humor and delicious insights into the everyday inspire me to dash out and embrace rocks, twigs, and lather up my hands in lavendar soap. My favorite poem is “Introduction to Poetry.” For those students who can’t let go of Shel Silverstein as they enter the grown up world of poetry I nudge them towards Billy.
    Thanks for the stop by and this great post!

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  6. Hi Just wandered over here from Tony”s blog & saw your Billy Collins post. I’m a relatively new comer to his words but like what I’ve read. In light of it being love poetry, I thought I’d suggest a writer Erich Freid & this poem.

    What It Is

    It is madness
    says reason
    It is what it is
    says love

    It is unhappiness
    says caution
    It is nothing but pain
    says fear
    It has no future
    says insight
    It is what it is
    says love

    It is ridiculous
    says pride
    It is foolish
    says caution
    It is impossible
    says experience
    It is what it is
    says love.

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