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Nine Horses: Poems by Billy Collins

Nine Horses: Poems (2002)

by Billy Collins

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"We are busy doing nothing" Collins says of poets and in these poems that is true. A lot of work went into them - the attention to words, phrasing, cadence - and it doesn't result in much. He starts with promising ideas but they don't go anywhere. See "Absence," "Paris," "Trompe L'Oeil," "Albany," "Rooms." Very rarely - "Study in Orange and White" - he has an idea that makes it worth reading the whole poem. But mostly these are poems with no center, "no there there." The work is in four parts and the last two are better. Collins is best when he writes about nearly nothing - "The Great Walter Pater" or "Bermuda." He would have been good on the rewrite of "Last Year at Marienbad." With so many poets with something to say trying to be heard it's a shame that he gets so much of the stage for minor statements. ( )
  Richj | Aug 18, 2014 |
After three days of steady, inconsolable rain,
I walk through the rooms of the house
wondering which would be best to die in.

I read very little poetry. Laughably little, embarrassingly little. But [[Billy Collins]] reminds me here, as he always does, that poetry is not sentimental or schlocky or dull. [Nine Horses: Poems] was just like the other books of his that I've read, slowly, a poem or two a day. There are poems about yearning and love and also poems about the weather or what he sees from the window of a train to Albany and sometimes they are all present in the same poem. I'm sorry to be finished with this slender volume.

Before it was over
I took out a pencil and a notepad
and figured out roughly what was left --
a small box of Octobers, a handful of Aprils,

little time to waste reading a large novel
on the couch every evening,
a few candles flaming in the corners of the room.
a fishbowl of Mondays, a row of Fridays --

yet I cannot come up with anything
better than to strike a match,
settle in under a light blanket,
and open to the first sentence of
Clarissa. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | May 6, 2014 |
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. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jan 10, 2014 |
Clear but never pedestrian, welcoming to the reader. Perfect for picking up for a few minutes, while you wait for a late friend to arrive, for example. "Rooms" and "Colorado" are my favorites in this collection.
  Oh_Carolyn | Jul 18, 2013 |
Beautiful poetry from an amazing modern poet. ( )
  Poindextrix | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375755209, Paperback)

In Nine Horses, Billy Collins, U.S. poet laureate and author of the bestselling collection Sailing Alone Around the Room, attempts to find beauty in simplicity, but ends up achieving the simply banal. Some poems, such as "Rooms" and "Obituaries," in which readers are given freedom to draw their own conclusions, are memorable, but the language in Nine Horses has little music and thoughts are plainly stated. Animals (mostly mice and little birds) populate this sentimental journey, and they are nearly always personified, resulting in poems that sometimes read like the verse equivalent of a Thomas Kinkade print. Collins's use of the vernacular can be burdensome ("and you are certainly not the pine-scented air. / There is no way you are the pine-scented air"), but some readers may find comfort (a haven perhaps) in the author's warm, safe world. Billy Collins has become an immensely popular poet, and though Nine Horses may remain less than inspiring, its poems are certain not to offend. --Michael Ferch

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

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A collection of poems by 2002-2003 Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins.

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