Litany

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine…
-Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general’s head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees

and the blind woman’s tea cup.
But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

~ Billy Collins

Previous Next

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Meheak
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 19:03:44

    I think the poet is saying how he might have found someone he’s in love with and he’s saying that even though she’s not perfect he still loves her. I say this because he says “You are…” and then he says “But you aren’t…”

  2. Meheak
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 19:05:35

    Oh and i notice that Billy Collins wrote Jacques Crickillon’s quote
    “You are the bread and the knife,
    The crystal goblet and the wine…”
    -Jacques Crickillon

  3. Ashleigh V
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 10:06:23

    Well, I think the quote on the very top is representing the whole poem by saying what is the main idea and the main words through out this poem. What makes me say this is that if you take a close look and read kinda slow it repeats the quote and sometimes it’ll say like what Meheak said “you are.. you aren’t”. Also when we watched the video and people in the video laughed I think I know why maybe because when it says you are then your not, People might have thought that was funny? What makes me say this is because when I watched the video myself I heard when he said it the people laughed…….(:

  4. Sky
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 08:52:17

    Why does it say you are the crystel goblet and the wine through the poem but in the end says you are the crystel goblet and–somehow–the wine? I just dont get why it has the markes around somehow.

  5. Cowee (-=
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 08:58:20

    Why does billy Collins say you are the bread and the knife but then he says you are not the pine scented air there is just no way you are the pine scented air. What does he mean please help I am confused?

    • Sky
      Sep 25, 2012 @ 09:13:07

      I dont know why he say’s that eather cowee.

  6. Cowee (-=
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 09:01:26

    Why is the guy bald?

  7. Sky
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 09:07:56

    I think this is like a love poem because if its about a girl then he’s giving her a lot of complements.

  8. Sky
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 09:10:21

    I dont know why this guy is bald cowee.

  9. Tanner == (:
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 09:13:41

    Why was he touching the glass a lot in the video

  10. Rose
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 17:01:50

    This is a very interesting poem, and the poet included Jacques Crickillons poem piece very well. Billy Collins also used the piece in the last stanza in his own words, and I thought he did a great job at how he used it.

  11. Cassidy
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 17:06:44

    I think the author is trying to complement a girl but he gets carried off and starts tell her what she’s not like when he says ” There is just no way you are the pine sented air.” Then he started complementing himself like when he said “I am the shooting star,”

  12. Lily
    Sep 25, 2012 @ 17:09:57

    I think that the poet made a charachter In the poem very stuck up because the person is saying that the other person is that , only that and nothing else and that he or she is so much more than the other person. I also found the video of the poet reading it very funny because he sooke with one tone of voice.

  13. Olivia
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 19:15:37

    I think this poem is about someone who is sad and their loved one is trying to cheer that person up by keep saying these compliments or things.My evidence for that the person may be sad is in the last stanza how the poet says:But don’t worry, I’m not the bread and the knife.
    You are still the bread and the knife.
    You will always be the bread and the knife,
    not to mention the crystal goblet and–somehow–the wine.

  14. Hanna
    Jan 12, 2015 @ 19:53:21

    I really liked this poem because of how it has the quote at the begining. i think he got inspired by this poem by the quote he found and decided to make a poem out of hks own ideas.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.