by Billy Collins

So much gloom and doubt in our poetry-
flowers wilting on the table,
the self regarding itself in a watery mirror.

Dead leaves cover the ground,
the wind moans in the chimney,
and the tendrils of the yew tree inch toward the coffin.

I wonder what the ancient Chinese poets
would make of all this,
these shadows and empty cupboards?

Today, with the sun blazing in the trees,
my thoughts turn to the great
tenth-century celebrator of experience,

Wa-Hoo, whose delight in the smallest things
could hardly be restrained,
and to his joyous counterpart in the western provinces,

“Despair” by Billy Collins from Ballistics. © Random House, 2008. (buy now)

2 Replies to “Despair ”

    1. Yes. And I do read a lot of poetry online that seems to be mostly about negative emotions. It’s not that all of this is wrong, it’s just that somehow people have gotten the idea that the only kind of poetry or art that is “serious” has to be dark and miserable. Some is, but there’s more to life than the sound of sad violins.

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