The Names - Billy CollinsYesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.
About the poet: Billy Collins was born in 1941 in New York City. He was appointed United States Poet Laureate and held this position at the time of the Sept. 11th attacks. He was a Professor at Lehamn College for thirty years. Billy Collins is an American original, a poet with a funny bone and a sly questioning intelligence. He is an ironist of the void and his poems–witty, playful, and beautifully turned–bump up against the deepest human mysteries. (bigsnap.com)
The poem, “The Names,” by Billy Collins brings about truth and honesty for the people who perished on 9/11. Billy Collins composed a poem that reminds us of that horrid day and the people who we lost. The author uses imagery, metaphors, and allegory to describe the thoughts and remembrance of that day. He uses the names of the victims of September 11th, so that we can re-visualize that day. The poem, “The Names” has a deep meaning to anyone who was directly affected by the September 11th attacks on America. He captures the words and creates a memory for those who perished during this time. Using the alphabet he uses one letter to symbolize each name of the victims. He chooses one name to represent each letter. The letters become synonymous with the names themselves.