Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: Nine Horse by Billy Collins

My son is suffering through poetry in his high school English class. He does not find it easy to see symbolism or to plumb behind metaphor for meaning. He already dislikes the class and this unit finds him struggling terribly. I remember feeling a little at a loss myself when reading poetry despite my general facility with all things English class related.  Unlike my boy, I could eventually winkle out a meaning acceptable enough to earn me praise but the work of it left me unwilling to read poetry on my own. And this has stayed the case for twenty some years now. But for some reason, when I saw Billy Collins' collection, Nine Horses, I was drawn to it. And the word "Poems" on the cover did not make me immediately want to run and hide. So I brought it home and now I've read it. And I wish that my son could be studying some of the simple, natural, and elegant poems contained in this collection. Yes, because they are accessible but mostly because they are wonderful.

Collins captures the beauty of the natural world and of our place within it. He writes of the stages of life and the everyday. And he presents it all in clear and lovely verse. Sometimes he makes surprising but accurate comparisons, sometimes he pops in a twist on the expected, and sometimes he writes something witty and tongue in cheek, but overall and most of the time the poems are infused with a sense of familiarity and comfort. This is an eloquent and pleasing collection to be sure and I'll have to search out his others to allow myself to slip into the plain and profound beauty of his language and imagery again and again.


  1. I love Billy Collins and if all students could sample the likes of Collins poetry would not be such a dreaded genre.

    The Things You Can Read

  2. Wow. I too hate poetry and while your review doesn't make me want to run out and read this, that you found a poetry book you don't hate, gives me hope.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts