Poetry and Tea

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, which makes the idea of tea and poetry sound really good, especially if there were a blazing fire near the table that I’d drape with a soft tablecloth.

The picture is from a tea party I gave in honor of my friend Bird, now 98 years old. We like to share our favorite poems with each other when we get to visit.

I will post one in her honor here today.


I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

–Billy Collins


14 thoughts on “Poetry and Tea

  1. Tee hee! Love the poem! I should encourage the children to write some more poetry. Then we could have some tea and a poetry reading. It sounds like fun!



  2. I know this poem and love it! I have several books of poems by Billy Collins, and I love to read just one to get my whole mind thinking “outside of the box.” I don't know of any poet who does a better job of seeing things from such an astounding viewpoint. Your tea table looks so beautifully old-fashioned. I love those teapots! xo Kari


  3. I love poetry (I even have an MFA degree in writing poetry!), and I love love the idea of poetry and tea. Higher ground, indeed!

    Got your postcard yesterday–it was neat to see your handwriting. It adds a dimension to my picture of you–constructed of your posts and reading lists and blog photos–I carry in my head.



  4. How delicious to blend tea and poetry! And I grin at that Collins poem — so true, especially from a teacher's perspective. Many a student pulled out the torture hose in my classroom.


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