American Life in Poetry: Column 510

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

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).

Winter

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.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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 © 2018 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.