the bread and the knife…

I was thinking today about my love of metaphor. I love it because of it’s poetic directness….now at first blush that may seem an odd pairing and of course, it is…because that is the very nature of metaphor…odd pairings. The basic underlying principle of metaphor as I understand it is to take two seemingly unrelated ideas and bring them together, show their connectedness, breathe their shared oxygen.

Somedays when I ponder metaphor I think it may actually be the solution to all the world’s ills…if only we made time to look deeply enough to see them.

These “odd pairings” though…consider this…the poetic nature of metaphor being the comparison,
your words are chocolate to me…
our God is a strong tower…
the undercooked shrimp was a timebomb….

We have the poetic and yet we have the directness too…I’m not saying your words are LIKE chocolate…they ARE chocolate. It is just that real. No wimpy simile here, direct, commited, unabashed. Metaphor is strong.

I write all this and yet the first thing I think whenever I write metaphor is Billy Collins‘ poem, “Litany” and I will post it now here for your enjoyment. If you EVER get the chance ot hear Billy read his work live and in person, I highly recommend this. 😉

Billy Collins

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


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