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Nine Horses

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  3,882 Ratings  ·  235 Reviews
In Nine Horses, Billy Collins, America s Poet Laureate for 2001 2003, continues his delicate negotiation between the clear and the mysterious, the comic and the elegiac. The poems in this collection reach dazzling heights while being firmly grounded in the everyday. Traveling by train, lying on a beach, and listening to jazz on the radio are the seemingly ordinary activiti ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Random House Trade (first published 2002)
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Feb 16, 2011 TK421 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-drama
Let me start by saying: I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT POETRY! In grad school I intentionally steered clear of any class that had to analyze poetry in any aspect. It’s not that I was afraid of the work; it was more that the work overwhelmed me. How does one exactly go about analyzing the thoughts of a person when the words are directed at allusions and people and places and times that the reader may have little to no knowledge of?

Years have passed since my chickening out, and I have decided to
David Barbero
Dec 09, 2008 David Barbero rated it it was amazing

"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 no way you are the pine-scented air.

it is possible
Apr 02, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2013
I would not call myself a fan of poetry by any stretch of the imagination. I avoided poetry classes as much as possible while getting my English degree, and suffered and rolled my eyes through the ones I had to take. This is an enormous generalization, but poetry usually feels to me like it's obscure for the sake of obscurity. "If I hide my thoughts beneath 8 different layers of allusion and metaphor and break them up into nearly meaningless little fragments, I'll look deep and thoughtful and ar ...more
Hansen Wendlandt
Jul 26, 2011 Hansen Wendlandt rated it really liked it
After reading Nine Horses was the first time I've ever gone immediately online to order the rest of an author's works. It's as good as poetry can get for someone who appreciates poetry without any formal study. Collins has an impeccable style, longer poems than Dickinson (which can just scroll by), but short enough to keep full attention. Shakespeare might push layers of meaning onto single words, but Collins has an uncanny way of using a straightfoward line that means one thing with the previou ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Graydon rated it really liked it
I love Billy Collins! I have read most of this book, I like to pick it up now and again when I need to be reminded of what honest and uninhibited writing is like. Some of the poems I have read multiple times others I have yet to read.
Matthew Huff
Oct 17, 2016 Matthew Huff rated it it was amazing
Marvelous. Collins' ability to transform a seemingly mundane detail into a poetic cosmos is simply excellent. He's got a lot of winners in this collection.
Kristy K
Jan 22, 2017 Kristy K rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2017
3.5 Stars
Nov 26, 2011 A.M. rated it it was amazing
Nine Horses is a collection of poetry for those of us who have attained some of the patience and wisdom that come with middle age. "We must always look at things from the point of view of eternity," he says in "Velocity," and the book is a celebration of the subtlety of life, the beauty in inanimate objects we normally take for granted and those moments in time absent of the drama humans seem to crave - romance, riches, the thrill of victory.

If the poet were younger, Collins admits, "I might be
He is called "sensible and gifted," and I have to laugh; I bet not many poets want to be called sensible, I imagine they are looking for more flowery adjectives like passionate or brilliant. But these poems aren't really either, they are, well, sensible. But gifted! I like his imagery:

"But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod
ready for the next arrow." Aimless Love

"As one bucket after another
of warm water was poured over my lowered head,
I stopped thinking of who and what to than
Gabriel Clarke
I don't know quite how to respond to this. I don't resent the fact that Collins leads a wonderful, charmed life, flitting from Bermuda to Paris to the club car on the New York- Niagara Falls line. I like the directness and the clearly hard-won effects of his a-bit-like-classical-Chinese-poetry-translations voice. But I want a poem to challenge me to step outside my own world and look at it , a bit startled perhaps, through a complicating or contradictory lens. At the very least, I want it to mak ...more
Mar 05, 2009 Tracy rated it really liked it
If you're debating about reading Billy Collins, or any poetry for that matter, you MUST check him out. Here's a sample to show you that poetry can be beautiful, but funny, too (I was reading this in bed, and laughed out loud -- actually woke my husband -- because I could just SEE this little mouse...):

"The Country"
I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was
Patricia J. O'Brien
Dec 29, 2012 Patricia J. O'Brien rated it really liked it
I like poetry that is first of all honest, followed by language that has cadence, vivid imagery and emotional impact. It can be witty or painful or anything in between if it has the other ingredients like Billy Collins's Nine Horses.
Some may disagree with me, but I don't think poetry has to be epic in length or carry a heavy weight of import. For me, it needs to be a snapshot of life that resonates like a bell.
For instance, I love the way "Aimless Love" opens: "This morning as I walked along the
Jan 10, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
I am truly mystified why this guy is "the most popular poet in America," according to the New York Times. His poems are like making a great to-do about hopping around in a tiny circle, or like reading someone's tweets narrating what they had for breakfast. His poems are all very brief snapshots, without much that provides any kind of resonance. They are easy to understand, which is perhaps the reason why they are "popular," but I didn't get much out of the read. Collins leans heavily on first pe ...more

How exhilarating it was to march
along the great boulevards
in the sunflash of trumpets
and under all the waving flags—
the flag of ambition, the flag of love.

So many of us streaming along—
all of humanity, really—
moving in perfect step,
yet each lost in the room of a private dream.

How stimulating the scenery of the world,
the rows of roadside trees,
the huge curtain of the sky.

How endless it seemed until we veered
off the broad turnpike
into a pasture of high grass,
headed toward the dizzying cl
Apr 11, 2015 E rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Finally, someone captures the horrific pain and angst of getting that horrible tune caught in your head for hours, even days, in "More than a Woman." (For a real treat, pull it up on You-Tube and hear Collins' amusing intro before he reads it out loud.) The final poem, "Poetry," is a funny, lovely, and wise treatise on how poetry has a different job than fiction or drama. Collins is such an exceptional observer of the unexceptional--how the quotidian is the most extraordinary thing we can ever e ...more
Jan 04, 2017 Kirby rated it really liked it
The holidays and the end of 2016 in general took a real bite out of me, so I thought some light poetry might help soothe my spirit. This is really accessible poetry that celebrates ordinary pleasures, like the sun on your face, or setting a bird free that somehow got trapped in your living room. It's not revolutionary stuff, but it was very nice reading a little every day when I got home from work and before bed. It reminded me how much I like poetry and how certain types of poetry do indeed hav ...more
Sep 30, 2007 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Billy Collins fans
It's never unpleasant to read Billy Collins, but the payoffs of this collection's 51 poems seemed smaller than those of his Sailing Alone Around the Room. That's not surprising, given that the latter collects standout poems from his whole career. Still, this book's offerings often felt a little too light, too precious.
John Curtis
May 16, 2010 John Curtis rated it it was ok
This is what happens when a writer becomes a parody of his or herself. Billy Collins' stuff was charming and refreshing enough to get away with writing the same two or three poems over and over again for several books. However, a second decade of poems about wine, jazz, and laid-back Italian vacations tries one's patience.
Feb 18, 2014 oNightshade rated it liked it
My favorite lines, from the poem Love :

I saw him looking up at her
and what she was doing
the way the eyes of saints are painted

when they are looking up at God
when he is doing something remarkable,
something that identifies him as God.
May 15, 2012 Daniela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I normally mark poems that I particularly enjoy with slips of paper. I stopped doing that with this collection after a few pages because I realized that I was marking every poem. I think that this might have just become my favorite collection of poetry. I am truly in love.
Dec 17, 2013 Vicki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I. Love. This. Poet. What a fabulous writer! It is so easy to get caught up in the images his writing evokes; the sense of wonder and comfort, of days gone by and memories that are awakened. It is no wonder he was a Poet Laureate. Fabulous!
Jul 26, 2008 lisa rated it it was amazing
i love his poems. it's like a mix of the metaphysical with a dash of secret english major jokes.
Sep 08, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This volume seemed to be more serious and reflective... the images are strong and the figurative language is original and arresting. `Free verse. ...more
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 25, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-library
After three days of steady, inconsolable rain,
I walk through the rooms of the house
wondering which would be best to die in.

I read very little poetry. Laughably little, embarrassingly little. But [[Billy Collins]] reminds me here, as he always does, that poetry is not sentimental or schlocky or dull. [Nine Horses: Poems] was just like the other books of his that I've read, slowly, a poem or two a day. There are poems about yearning and love and also poems about the weather or what he sees from th
Jun 22, 2017 David rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-2017
Collins creates windows into experiences, with fresh descriptions and an insight that is often amusing or lightly reflective. Some of these poems were quite nice, but as I continued to read, amateur that I am, I had the sneaking suspicion that removing the line breaks and changing the poems into prose would not really change the poem (as someone else on the ethernet wrote). It would become a reflection on an experience, Garrison Keillor like, a raconteur telling a good story with wit and poetic ...more
Jun 19, 2017 Autumn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another poetry collection I galloped through this afternoon. Thankfully, I borrowed it from the library, and it can go back to its home on the shelf for other hands to hold. I enjoyed these poems, especially the ones about Paris, but they weren't as striking to me as I expected them to be. I do have hope for Collins's other works, which I will peruse, so I consider this a good introduction to his style and unusual, pajama-clad grace.
May 11, 2017 Memphis rated it it was amazing
This could make anyone rediscover a love of poetry. Clear language, evocative imagery, relevant insights that speak into ordinary life. Wonderful art that lets you feel the poem rather than just puzzle over it and see it as a bag full of allusions to unpack and be impressed-by.

May 23, 2017 Tom rated it really liked it
A fine mixture of enjoyable concise and thought stimulating short poems. Just the ticket to take a person out of the complexities and stresses of life for a few minutes at the end of the day.
Melody Cook
Mar 19, 2017 Melody Cook rated it really liked it
A lovely collection--observational poetry in that masterful Collins way. Favorites include: "Rooms," "The Literary Life," and "Balsa."
May 20, 2011 Antonia rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I'd read all of Collins's collections except for this one and the most recent.

I can say I enjoyed the book in a very general way, but I'm left thinking: Hmmm... Isn't this a little dumbed-down? Is it really what I think of when I think (eek!) "poetry"? I generally like early Collins better than later Collins. He seems to be one poet who has not improved with writing or with age. Just my opinion. I preferred the earlier sections of this collection. By section IV, I'd lost some interest or the poe
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Poetry Readers Ch...: Nine Horses by Billy Collins 8 24 Jul 22, 2013 12:25PM  
  • Flying At Night: Poems 1965-1985
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  • Different Hours
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  • Evidence: Poems
  • Fooling with Words : A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft
  • What Narcissism Means to Me
  • Selected Poems
  • Special Orders: Poems
  • Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002
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William A. ("Billy") Collins is an American poet. He served two terms as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004.
More about Billy Collins...

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