Poetry Friday: Morning – Billy Collins


We’ve been learning about odes in my class this week. When I asked the kids if they had ever heard the word “ode” before and if they had any idea what it meant, one of them raised his hand and said (in complete earnestness), “Yeah, an ode is something that smells bad.” I swear it’s surprises like that that keep a teacher alive half way through May. So I’ve found an ode for Poetry Friday today, one of my favourites: Morning by Billy Collins. In fact, I am in complete agreement with Billy on the superiority of morning compared to all other times of the day. I am a morning person – as much as my tired teacher brain is attempting to convince me otherwise these days. I will continue to repeat that phrase, “I am a morning person. I am a morning person…” (between cups of strong coffee) all the way til June.  

Morning – by Billy Collins

Why do we bother with the rest of the day,
the swale of the afternoon
the sudden dip into evening,
then night with his notorious perfumes
his many-pointed stars?
This is the best –
throwing off the light covers,
feet on the cold floor,
and buzzing around the house on espresso—

maybe a splash of water on the face,
a palmful of vitamins—
but mostly buzzing around the house on espresso,
dictionary and atlas open on the rug,
the typewriter waiting for the key of the head,
a cello on the radio…

That is what I’m hoping my upcoming long weekend will look like. Please do read the last stanza over at Poetry Foundation.

(photo photo © Darren Hester for openphoto.net CC:Attribution)  


9 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Morning – Billy Collins

  1. TadMack

    I still love this so much, even though I’m not much of a coffee drinker — the idea of the handful of vitamins and buzzing on espresso is so amusing to me. I love Billy Collins.

  2. writer2b

    Thanks for this. My favorite part: buzzing around the house on espresso. Hang in there, Teacher!

  3. Jenny

    I love Billy Collins and this poem, though I haven’t read it in a while. Like all of the best poems, this touches on so much of what I feel.

    I call myself a morning person, but I need a whole lot of coffee to get myself moving and “buzzing”…

  4. Kelly Fineman

    “and the lawn steaming like a horse
    in the early morning”

    Oh my. How wonderful is that image??

    I hope you told the student that not all odes smell bad.

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  6. cloudscome

    This is one of my favorite Collins poems because I treasure just this type of morning. I count it blessing when I am the first one up. And how sweet to spend May with kids like your students!

  7. shelfelf Post author

    It’s a regular Billy Collins love-in over here today. I feel exactly the same way about him.

    Cloudscome – I too love being the first person up, tootling around in my pjs with a doggy shadow right behind me.

    Tadmack – vitamins and coffee is the way I start my day every day (with breakfast too Mom – I swear!)

    Kelly – don’t worry, I told the kids that not all odes are smelly 🙂

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