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. Lovely! I just received my “a poem in my pocket” stuff and my poetry month poster from The Academy of American Poets. Oh, if we could just revel in poems at school.


  3. 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


  4. 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.



  5. 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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