I do enjoy Billy Collins’ work. He is probably one of the most popular poets out there with Mary Oliver, whose work especially “Dog Songs” and “Blue Horses” I really enjoy.
This is from his last collection “The Rain in Portugal: Poems.”
Basho in Ireland
I am like the Japanese poet
who longed to be in Kyoto
even though he was already in Kyoto.
I am not exactly like him
because I am not Japanese
and I have no idea what Kyoto is like
But once, while walking around
the Irish town of Ballyvaughan
I caught myself longing to be in Ballyvaughan.
The sense of being homesick
for a place that is not my home
while bring right in the middle of it
was particularly strong
when I passed the hotel bar
then the fluorescent depth of a laundrette,
also when I stood at the crossroads
with the road signs pointing in 3 directions
and the enormous buses making the turn.
It might have had something to do
with the nearby limestone hills
and the rain collecting on my collar,
but then again I have longed
to be with a number of people
while the two of us were sitting in a room
on an ordinary evening
without a limestone hill in sight,
thousands of miles from Kyoto
and the simple wonders of Ballyvaughan,
which reminds me
of another Japanese poet
who wrote how much he enjoyed
not being able to see
his favorite mountain because of all the fog.
It’s strange how memory and longing work.
How certain places can feel like home even when they are not.
And others can feel not home even when they are.
I really loved this poem and wanted to share it.