The Bard in Flight

by Billy Collins

The Bard in FlightIt occurred to me

on a flight from London to Barcelona

that Shakespeare could have written

This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

with more authority had he occupied

the window seat next to me

instead of this businessman from Frankfurt.

As an English major,

I would know how to break the ice,

and once we had a few drinks

and were sharing my ear buds,

he might become so preoccupied

with “Miles Davis at the Blackhawk”

at 36,000 feet over one realm or another

that he wouldn’t want to say or write another word.

I’d let him play with my wristwatch,

the one with the tartan band,

and try to explain the existence of Gertrude Stein,

but he would mostly stare out the oval window

while admiring the pile of ice cubes in his glass.

And he could not hide his fascination

with the announcements from the flight deck

and the ministrations of the bowing attendants—

a sad reminder of how I have gotten used to

the once unimaginable experience

of bulleting through the sky in a silvery rush.

Which is not to say I am

completely insensible to the song

of the turbines as we begin our descent

and the thrill of bouncing

around high above some blessed plot,

while the crockery shifts in the galley,

the passengers grip their armrests,

and the Bard reaches for my hand

as we roar with vibrating wings

through a bank of towering clouds.

From the The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins
A reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

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