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Having trawled through Andrew Motion's The Drifted Stream for Audible. Only one poem swam against the tide. This seems to be the hit rate per collection, one good standout poem, often good enough to compensate for the poems that might interest you temporarily but fail to grab the attention.

The poems ranged from Middle English to the mid-twentieth century and were mostly middling. I got the impression that the historical cast helped keep the costs down.

But this poem survives on its own. Maybe it suits my particular appetite at the time.


When it’s late at night and branches.

are banging against the windows,

you might think that love is just a matter

of leaping out of the frying pan of yourself

into the fire of someone else,

but it’s a little more complicated than that.

It’s more like trading the two birds

who might be hiding in that bush

for the one you are not holding in your hand.

A wise man once said that love

was like forcing a horse to drink

but then everyone stopped thinking of him as wise.

Let us be clear about something.

Love is not as simple as getting up

on the wrong side of the bed wearing the emperor’s clothes.

No, it’s more like the way the pen

feels after it has defeated the sword.

It’s a little like the penny saved or the nine dropped stitches.

You look at me through the halo of the last candle

and tell me love is an ill wind

that has no turning, a road that blows no good,

but I am here to remind you,

as our shadows tremble on the walls,

that love is the early bird who is better late than never.

Ballistics. Picador 2009, p77.

#Billy Collins

I wake up with the name Claudia Rankine in my head. I rarely remember dreams, but sometimes names or lyrics survive sleep. Later on in the day, I learn that it is World Poetry Day.

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