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22gigantes.com - From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering nearly fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him “America’s favorite poet.” The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he’s not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins’s ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—“the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they’re in Minneapolis”—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry. On Rhyme It’s possible that a stitch in time might save as many as twelve or as few as three, and I have no trouble remembering that September has thirty days. So do June, November, and April. I like a cat wearing a chapeau or a trilby, Little Jack Horner sitting on a sofa, old men who are not from Nantucket, and how life can seem almost unreal when you are gently rowing a boat down a stream. That’s why instead of recalling today that it mostly pours in Spain, I am going to picture the rain in Portugal, how it falls on the hillside vineyards, on the surface of the deep harbors where fishing boats are swaying, and in the narrow alleys of the cities where three boys in tee shirts are kicking a soccer ball in the rain, ignoring the window-cries of their mothers.
Most helpful customer reviews 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful. In Praise of the Ordinary By Foster Corbin Regular readers of Billy Collins’ poetry will recognize his usual subjects in his new book of poems THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL (the phrase shows up in the poem “On Rhyme,” which is not my favorite poem): cats, dogs, a breakfast meal, distant cities, travel, nature, other poets (Donald Hall, W. H. Auden, Cavafy, Shakespeare et al). And as we have come to expect, he writes with gentle humor. (“A Note to J. Alfred Prufrock” is one example of many.) A poem that begins as whimsical, however, sometimes may turn serious and surprise you. Practically every poem in this collection is the kind that Garrison Keillor would choose to read for his daily “The Reader’s Almanac” on NPR.Mr. Collins said in an interview some years ago that the subject of most poems is death. Three of my favorite poems here have to do with the subject. In “December lst” he remembers his mother who, if she were alive, would be 114: “Today is my mother’s birthday,/but she’s not here to celebrate/by opening a flowery card/or looking calmly out a window.” (Has there ever been a mother on earth who did not love those Hallmark cards that we always sent them I ask.) The poem “Portrait goes to the bone. The narrator of the poem observes a woman with a ponytail disappear in a crowd:Now neither of uswas either here nor thereand would fail to make our mark on the history of civilization.And that reminded me of the dayI stood in a museumbefore a somber paintingthen bent close to readthe little printed cardthat told me it was a portraitof an anonymous Dutch familyby an anonymous Dutch painterMy favorite poem—at least for today as I might change my mind tomorrow—is the poem “Helium.”Imagining what the weather will be likeon the day following your deathhas a place on that list of thingsthat distinguish us from animals as if walking around on two legslaughing to ourselves were not enough to close the case.In these forecasts, it’s usually raining,The way it would be in the movies,But it could be sparkling clearOr grey and still with snow expected in the afternoon.Much will continue to occur after I dieseems to be the message here.The rose will nod its red or yellow head.Sunbeams will break into the gloomy woods.And that’s what was on my mindas I drove through a gauntlet of signson a road that passed through a small town in Ohio:Bob’s Transmissions,The Hairport, the Bountiful Buffet,Reggie’s Bike Shop, Balloon Designs by Pauline,and Majestic China Garden to name a few.When I realized that all these placescould still be in business on the day after I die,I vowed to drink more water,to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables,and to start going to the gym I never go toif only to outliveBalloon Designs by Paulineand maybe even Pauline herselfthough it would be enough if she simplylost the business and left town for good.Finally, in what must be a first for subject matter, Mr. Collins has written a poem “Under the Stars” about urinating while looking at the moon (he uses a word that I cannot write here for the act.) In the same interview referred to above, Mr. Collins, who as I recall was commenting on a new biography of Emily Dickinson with some new twist, stated that we should simply read Miss Dickinson’s poetry for the sheer beauty of it rather than analyze it to death. The same can be said for his own poetry. 3 of 3 people found the following review helpful. Delightful in every way By Deanokat I've been a Billy Collins fan for a long, long time, so I was super excited to get this latest book of his poems. And Collins didn't disappoint. The 56 poems in The Rain in Portugal are pure Billy Collins: simple, thought-provoking, insightful, and funny. Collins's knack of taking ordinary things and events and turning them into beautiful poems is present here. As a cat lover, "Lucky Cat" had me grinning all the way through it. Here's an excerpt:"It's a law as immutable as the onesgoverning bodies in motion and bodies at restthat a cat picked up will never stayin the place where you choose to set it down.I bet you'd be happy on the sofaor this hassock or this knitted throw pilloware a few examples of bets you are bound to lose.The secret of winning, I have found,is to never bet against the cat but on the catpreferably with another human beingwho, unlike the cat, is likely to be carrying money.And I cannot think of a better timeto thank our cat for her obedience to that lawthus turning me into a consistent winner."Several of the poems in this book have appeared elsewhere, but there are brand-new poems here as well. Collins's poetry is easy to read and not at all pretentious. It's just delightful in every way. If you're a fan of poetry, you should treat yourself to this book by one of America's master poets. 4 of 5 people found the following review helpful. Middlebrow fluff By R. M. Peterson I had not heard of Billy Collins until I was offered this book by Amazon Vine. Checking the internet I learned that he has been the Poet Laureate of the United States (from 2001 to 2003) and that he has been called "the most popular poet in America" (in "The New York Times") and "America's favorite poet" (in "The Wall Street Journal"). Good enough for me to try him out in my ongoing project to expose myself to poetry of quality. Too often in that effort I have sampled poets who are pretentiously cryptic (Mark Strand leaps to mind). Billy Collins represents the other end of the spectrum. His poems, at least those contained in THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL, are straightforward, undemanding, and easily understood. But I am equally unlikely to remember or return to them.The vast majority of the poems are Collins's observations of or reflections on events in his life. (The words "I" or "we" appear in all but five of the sixty-one poems.) Some of the poems are humorous and a few are whimsical (such as the one in which Collins imagines that the man in the airplane seat next to him is William Shakespeare). There are two or three sad ones (including what for me was the best in the book), but none are dark or painful. Incidentally, Collins seems to have a thing for turtles. Only one poem employed rhyme. Most have a loose sense of rhythm, but they might as well be prose snippets. There is so little variation among the poems, in form or content, that with me they have coalesced into a single blob of cotton candy."On Rhyme" can serve as a representative example of the poems in THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL, especially inasmuch as it contains the line from which the book takes its title:It's possible that a stich in timemight save as many as twelve or as few as three,and I have no trouble rememberingthat September has thirty days.So do June, November, and April.I like a cat wearing a chapeau or a trilby,Little Jack Horner sitting on a sofa,old men who are not from Nantucket,and how life can seem almost unrealwhen you are gently rowing a boat down a stream.That's why instead of recalling todaythat it pours mostly in Spain,I am going to picture the rain in Portugal,how it falls on the hillside vineyards,on the surface of the deep harborswhere fishing boats are swaying,and in the narrow alleys of the cities,where three boys in tee shirtsare kicking a soccer ball in the rain,ignoring the window-cries of their mothers. 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About the Author Billy Collins is the author of eleven collections of poetry including Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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