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The Rain in Portugal

Cover of The Rain in Portugal

The Rain in Portugal

Poems
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering nearly fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him "America's favorite poet."

    The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he's not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins's ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—"the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they're in Minneapolis"—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.

    On Rhyme

    It's possible that a stitch in time
    might save as many as twelve or as few as three,
    and I have no trouble remembering
    that September has thirty days.
    So do June, November, and April.

    I like a cat wearing a chapeau or a trilby,
    Little Jack Horner sitting on a sofa,
    old men who are not from Nantucket,
    and how life can seem almost unreal
    when you are gently rowing a boat down a stream.

    That's why instead of recalling today
    that it mostly pours in Spain,
    I am going to picture the rain in Portugal,
    how it falls on the hillside vineyards,
    on the surface of the deep harbors

    where fishing boats are swaying,
    and in the narrow alleys of the cities
    where three boys in tee shirts
    are kicking a soccer ball in the rain,
    ignoring the window-cries of their mothers.
    From the Hardcover edition.
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
  • From former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins comes a twelfth collection of poetry offering nearly fifty new poems that showcase the generosity, wit, and imaginative play that prompted The Wall Street Journal to call him "America's favorite poet."

    The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he's not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins's ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical—"the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they're in Minneapolis"—to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.

    On Rhyme

    It's possible that a stitch in time
    might save as many as twelve or as few as three,
    and I have no trouble remembering
    that September has thirty days.
    So do June, November, and April.

    I like a cat wearing a chapeau or a trilby,
    Little Jack Horner sitting on a sofa,
    old men who are not from Nantucket,
    and how life can seem almost unreal
    when you are gently rowing a boat down a stream.

    That's why instead of recalling today
    that it mostly pours in Spain,
    I am going to picture the rain in Portugal,
    how it falls on the hillside vineyards,
    on the surface of the deep harbors

    where fishing boats are swaying,
    and in the narrow alleys of the cities
    where three boys in tee shirts
    are kicking a soccer ball in the rain,
    ignoring the window-cries of their mothers.
    From the Hardcover edition.
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      From the Hardcover edition.
    About the Author-
    • Billy Collins is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, Sailing Alone Around the Room, Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. He is also the editor of Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, and Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      November 7, 2016
      Collins (Aimless Love) returns with 60 typically on-brand poems of wandering, observing, and experiencing brief moments of profundity. There are elements of darkness and political awareness (“the piece/ on the morning radio about the former asylum/ whose inmates were kept busy/ at wooden benches in a workshop/ making leather collars and wristbands/ that would later be used to restrain them”), but mostly there’s the Collins his devoted readership knows in poems such as “Not So Still Life,” wherein “With the skull inching toward the pear,/ and the cluster of eggs beginning to wander,/ I had to reassure myself/ that my mother and father were still alive,/ I had a place to stay/ and a couple thousand dollars in a savings account.” Collins’s allure has always been in short, talky poems that deal with poetry’s big subjects: life, death, and poetry (“Poetry is too busy thinking about her children/ as she replaces a gold button on the blazer of Pride”). Once again Collins delivers, musing about his students, taking a walk around a lake, and reflecting on music history: “see Keith standing/ on the shoulders of the other Rolling Stones,/ who are in turn standing on the shoulders of Muddy Waters,/ who, were it not for that endless stack of turtles.../ would find himself standing on nothing at all.”

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