May 04, 2007

Billy Collins: Paradelle for Susan


I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Thinnest love, remember the quick branch.
Always nervous, I perched on your highest bird the.

It is time for me to cross the mountain.
It is time for me to cross the mountain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
Another pain for me to darken the mountain.
And find the time, cross my shore, to with it is to.

The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
The familiar waters below my warm hand.
Into handwriting your weather flies you letter the from the.

I always cross the highest letter, the thinnest bird.
Below the waters of my warm familiar pain,
Another hand to remember your handwriting.
The weather perched for me on the shore.
Quick, your nervous branch flew from love.
Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to.

NOTE: The paradelle is one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d’oc love poetry of the eleventh century. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words.

For more on Collins’ joke of the paradelle see its Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradelle


- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Katy Whitehead

    This is really interesting Zoe, I did not know this was a parody. Although it struck me as very clumsy the first time I read it, and dissapointingly pedestrian for Collins, I still think there are moments of (perhaps accidental) beauty contained within, especially in the final stanza. I thought perhaps he was trying to make a point about the clumsy nature of the speaker’s love, sort of Prufrock style.

    04 May 2007, 16:27

  2. I like the humour of the poem as it pushes the strictures of form to absurdity.

    13 May 2007, 14:41


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