Audaces fortuna juvat

Working towards my dream

Everything Passes By

Posted by C Moon on October 22, 2007

In his poem “Forgetfulness,” Billy Collins uses vivid imagery to remind us of the simple fact that everything passes by.

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As the title indicates, “Forgetfulness” talks about inability to hold time and keep memories that are passing away. If something passes away, it is “followed obediently” by the next. The poem says that though we strive not to forget, even what we have considered the dearest at some point eventually disappears from our memory. The memories retire to a “little fishing village where there are no phones.”

Our memory works like a shelf. Think of when you buy a new book. Once the shelf is completely filled up, you have to pull one out from the shelf so as to put the new book on the shelf. The same applies to our mental shelf. In order to remember something new, we may have to give up something old unconsciously.

The idea this poem conveys is simply heart-breaking. It is really sad if I forget my fond memories however I try not to. I am a forward-looking person but I still want to remember every bit and piece that constitutes my world and my life.

 

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Forgetfulness -Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

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