Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The funniest thing I've read all week . . .

I know that copyright means I can't retype the poem in its entirety (drat), but here are some excerpts. It's called "The Introduction" by Billy Collins. If any of you have ever been to a poetry reading, you'll especially appreciate this.

I don’t think this next poem
needs any introduction—
it’s best to let the work speak for itself.

Maybe I should just mention
that whenver I use the word five,
I’m referring to that group of Russian composers
who came to be known as “the Five,”
Balakirev, Moussorgsky, Borodin—that crowd.

Oh—and Hypsicles was a Greek astronomer.
he did something with the circle.

. . . [skipping some]

And you’re all familiar with helminthology?
It’s the science of worms.

. . . [he goes on like this, mentioning other obscure/made-up things]

Wagga Wagga is in New South Wales.
Rhyolite is that soft volcanic rock.
What else?
Yes, meranti is a type of timber, in tropical Asia I think,
and Rahway is just Rahway, New Jersey.

The rest of the poem should be clear.
I’ll just read it and let it speak for itself.

. . . [and then a hilarious ending]

Anyway, you get the idea. It kills me to leave any of it out--it's so good! But maybe this much will tantalize you into finding the poem and reading it yourself. It's in his collection, The Trouble with Poetry, which my friend Kathy gave me for Christmas and which I highly recommend.

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