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Forgetfulness By Billy Collins-Great Poetry Shop

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Last few words: 
I think its great because rhythm is consistent. The theme and title forgetfulness is well define and memorable.This poem paints a picture of what its like to forget as we grow older, or go through stuff.
Editing stage: 

Comments

Thanks for posting. As I said in Betty's post I'll await comment for a bit and let others have their chance..........stan

,

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Thanks Beau I will certaimnly look him up.

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Someone writing of how I feel in the middle of the night, deserves a place in history, and a very good piece! the theme is very good and the actual events are true to life, Good selection there Barbara, and he doesn't seem to have been writing much before 1990's and the fact that he is one year older than me is great lol, Yours Ian.T

HISTORY:-
Billy Collins

Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941.
He is the author of several books of poetry, including Ballistics (2008),
She Was Just Seventeen (2006), and many others during the naughties
Earlier works consist of:-
Picnic, Lightning (1998); The Art of Drowning(1995), which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize;
Questions About Angels (1991), which was selected by Edward Hirsch for the National Poetry Series and a few others during the 1990’s
In 2001, Collins was named U.S. Poet Laureate.
His other honours and awards include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1992.
He was chosen by the New York Public Library to serve as "Literary Lion".
He has conducted summer poetry workshops in Ireland at University College Galway, and taught at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence, and Lehman College, City University of New York.
He lives in Somers, New York.
Looks as if he started flourishing in the 1990’s, well that gives me a boost as he is only one year older than me lol

.
There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

Thanks for the history lesson. I read others of his and liked this one more. I thought it came close to greatness

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I think you describe what most people go through at some time we all forget things at different times of our life ... i dont remember much of my childhood

i hadnt heard of Billy before but i am catching up after i read this the first time I went off to find some more of his work I really like it

havent read a poem yet i didnt like :))

very good choice

regards Jayne-Chloe

("Always and Forever") - (Never lose a holy curiosity.-Albert Einstein)

Glad you like my choice. forgetting things can be stressful as we aged, I think Collins did a good job expressing metaphorically,

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Billy is one of my favorite reads !!!

Haven' heard from you in a while, I forgot your name, but remember pin name with no problem lol. I'm glad to know he is one your favorite

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Hi B,

Thanks for posting this and introducing yet another interesting poet to this forum. The gentle unravelling of all the givens and signposts in life is elegantly described. My personal opinion is, that it's a very good poem. Not a great one. Just didn't warm to it, I suppose it has something to do with the mundane lexis.

Ells x

I'm not sure what you mean by mundane lexis. I'm glad you think it's good. I think the metaphors elegantly describes how precious our memories are. We forget a little at a time, then others forget everything searching for some tidbits of past memories especially Alzheimer's patients suffering from the dreadful disease that slowly progressively in many erased memories of love ones like an eraser.

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Unusual Choice Barbara, I wonder why you chose it?
I would call this one a prose poem, as it could be written out as such.
That doesn't mean that I don't find the rhythm of it similar to poetry.
I find it uncomfortable, but that the theme, as Jayne said, a reminder
of how we become in old age.
It wouldn't be the poem I would choose.
But we are all different.

yours Ann.

"The image of yourself which you see in a mirror Is dead,
but the reflection of the moon on water, lives." Kenzan.

i chose this poem because I went through a rough time when I was forty four trying to remember how to get around my own home town. The doctors never listen to me so I went online and took an alzheimer evaluation test and failed it miserably. I suffered every symptom but maybe one or two. Right then and there I made up my mind to register for college and learn something new like computer technology, never before taking any classes in high school, eight years later I'm computer savvy and geeky as ever.

I retook the evaluation test again not too long ago and I pass it but have some dementia issues in other areas. I"m again online searching and finding ways to maintain my brain cells. No everybody suffer forgetfulness the same way and may react differently to it. It is a great poem I think. It reminds people of how precious their brains are and why we want to protect it and keep it as healthy as possible.

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How I admire you Barbara, defying the negative and making things positive, I fully understand your choice, and others in the same sort of situation would too. Well done you. yes keeping the brain busy is one of the tools against these weaknesses, and that's partly why my pal Erik is 87 and still bright, he keeps his brain going all day long, except when taking little unexpected naps (!), after all all day is long. We also walk in the woods a lot, and this combination makes for better health, along wit the right food of course.

When I find myself wishing a poem was written out as prose,
I feel its not so much a poem,
but that's just my possible lack of sensitivity.

Wish it was here to see beside me,
good luck to your endeavours Barbara,long may you live.

Love from Ann.

"The image of yourself which you see in a mirror Is dead,
but the reflection of the moon on water, lives." Kenzan.

thanks Ann

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What a brave woman you are. Thank you for sharing this story, it helps frame your choice and I suppose also why such a poem can be great to individuals: it talks to THEM, to the human heart and our experience.

Jenifer

thanks
brave, many don't see me as brave, esp. doctors they find me problematic and make it hard for me to ask treatments or physicals

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Thanks
thats my life, its why I do so much online to learn and take care of myself the best I can.

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Thanks
thats my life, its why I do so much online to learn and take care of myself the best I can.

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Thanks
thats my life, its why I do so much online to learn and take care of myself the best I can.

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I think it might well be the universal theme, precise imagery and lack of wasted words that gives this poem impact. Now as to being great, I take it this is a contemporary poet. Thus it will take some time for greatness to be confirmed. In my opinion this has all the elements of greatness but isn't posterity the final judge? Of course if it were rhyming it would be even better (just kidding lol)...............stan

I thought about the rhyming and how it would sound even better than it already is. I agree with Ann that it is more prose than poetry in the way it is written, but think it touches on poetry greatness in the way Collins express such a delicate issue as the brain and it ability to hold on to cherished able memories

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thanks Stan

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is to copy the piece into Word and Search and Replace all line breaks and paragraph breaks with spaces so that it is formatted as prose. Invariably as you read it, if it feels right, it is prose, if it still resonates linguistically and seems to be begging for the line breaks back, it is poetry, even if it is fully freeform with no discernible poetic devices. This test doesn't evaluate goodness or greatness, just the nature of the piece.

This poem didn't, in fact need that test,  there is a strong but not entirely regular meter, mostly the not so common dactylic (DUM da da). It is definitely poetry.

The /name of the/ author is the /first to go
followed o/bediently by the/ title, the/ plot,
the/ heartbreaking con/clusion, the en/tire novel
which/ suddenly be/comes one /you have /never read,
never /even /heard of,

You can here it clearly in his own reading
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Agj5VUiNZA

It is elegantly written and very powerful, with a poignant theme, especially to anyone approaching either old age or dementia. As I am. I love the warm touch of humour. Personally I think it is great and the theme is ultimately universal, even though it will be unrelatable to the denial that is youth.
 

cheers,
Jess
Everything changes bar one. Neopoet's 'Prime Directive'-
"Critique don't comment".
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

Thanks your critique boosted my ego lol. I'll certainly listen to the Collins reading and check the link you provided.

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I liked this so much. A new poet to me too - a lovely poem to read to health care students too. Forgetfulness and what it means. Is it great - not sure, memorable, yes. all in the eye/ear of the reader, such a personal thing.

Jenifer

Hi Jen
personal it is. It either educate as in the health field as you say, help ones who sufferes from some form of dementia, or help another better understand what a victim of denentia goes through.

It's may not be as memorable as for say "Good fences make good neighbor" I beg to differ lol as my neighbor had a fit when I started to put up fence, but is a great one of Robert Frost poems because of that one line, I think.

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Thanks I'm glad you think so

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It manages to talk about the decline of our minds with a measure of frank humour and I find that very appealing. This is my first exposure to this work and I'm glad you shared it Barbara. Perhaps that's why I feel such rapture at certain experiences and objects in the world: because I've forgotten them and am learning anew.....hehe.

Ron

Blue Demon77

"What I want is to be what I was before the knife,
before the brooch pin, before the salve, fixed me in this parenthesis:
Horses fluent in the wind. A place, a time gone out of mind."

The Eye Mote-Sylvia Plath

Thanks glad it helped you widen out into new ventures

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Read it again what ever it was panned down to comment and each time I do, I have forgotten what it was about..Yours Ian somebody ???

.
There are a million reasons to believe in yourself,
So find more reasons to believe in others..

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