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American Life in Poetry :: Billy Collins

American Life in Poetry: Column 510

Billy Collins, who lives in New York, is one of our country’s most admired poets, and this snapshot of a winter day is reminiscent of those great Chinese poems that on the virtue of their clarity and precision have survived for a couple of thousand years. His most recent book of poetry is Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems, (Random House, 2013).


A little heat in the iron radiator,
the dog breathing at the foot of the bed,

and the windows shut tight,
encrusted with hexagons of frost.

I can barely hear the geese
complaining in the vast sky,

flying over the living and the dead,
schools and prisons, and the whitened fields.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2014 by Billy Collins, “Winter,” (Poetry East, No. 82, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Billy Collins and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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