Roger Housden (2004), in his book ‘Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime’, lists and comments on the poems that created such impacts on his life that they remain indelibly etched in his soul. The first surprise is that, contrary to the title, eleven books are listed instead of ten. The question arises as to why these poems are chosen. As the author points out, these are poems that make such impacts on you that they remain with you for a lifetime. One person’s lifetime set will most likely be different from another person’s because we are moved by different aspects of life. The author suggests that, “surely if something, anything, is to sustain your attention, your passion, over a lifetime, it must have the capacity to reveal layers of meaning and value in ever-fresh and unexpected ways” (Roger Housden ).
What are the sources of fire and nourishment to the author’s soul that prompted the decisions to list these special poems? Perhaps we can gain insights by taking a close look at some of the poems listed.
Billy Collins’ “My Life” takes the ordinary events of everyday life and creates such an imagery of life that once you have read it, you see life from a newer and deeper perspective. The metaphors are striking (1; Ch. 1). How are geometric figures related to life? How does poking one’s finger through a smoke ring creates a view of life that you had not seen before? These images obviously created such deep thoughts in the author that this poem was listed among the “ten”
While I was reading this literature I am clearly able to imagine what the author was trying to portray. It was almost as if someone was in front of me and is explaining his life story with details, hand gestures and facial expressions. There is something so cleanly dispassionate about this image.
According to the Poet Laureate Billy Collins, poetry reading is a ''kind of national craze, like the Hula Hoop.'' As far as I am concerned, the chance that a poet be both shy and swaggering to have the confidence to write something like this is amazing.
Usually, poets can be found writing, editing, and clacking some more as they finesse a single stanza to give shape to a first manuscript.
For serious literary folk and poetry novitiates, there is insomnia by Billy Collins. Skewering poetry, Billy Collins reiterated many of his usual themes with a healthy dose of his usual panache and performed one of his best-enjoyed feats.
Another striking feature of this writing is that I felt like it was a description of my own events. Maybe, this is one of the reasons I have instantly feel in love with it and I feel my life has transformed into literary words.
The author paints a beautiful picture that manages to bring together all in one scene both the physicality and the ineffability of the life that we live.
This work is not just a collection of poems that are well written. They are signals to look at the simple mundane things of life that can create deeper lasting meanings for us. I am forced to examine myself, to search the soul, to see what the common artifacts of life are, that I have passed by daily without reflecting on the deeper meanings that they could have for my life.
If I had the opportunity to create another title or topic for this work, it would be “My Life in Words” due to the connection I feel with this literature.