The Peasants' Revolt

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It will all be over soon enough—
the shirt hanging from the doorknob,
trees beyond the windows,
and the kettle of water bubbling on a burner.

Soon enough, soon enough,
the many will be overwhelmed by the one.

Instead of the shaded road to the house,
the blue wheelbarrow upended,
and a picture book across my hips in bed,

just an expanse of white ink,
or a dark tunnel coiling away and down.

No sunflowers, no notebook,
no sand-colored denim jacket
and a stalk of hay in the teeth,

just a hole inside a larger hole
and the starless maw of space.
But we are still here,
all the world before us,
a beaded glass of water on the night table,
and the rest of this summer afternoon ahead.

So undo the buttons on your white blouse
and toss it over a chair back,
and let us lie down side by side
on these crisp sheets like two effigies on a tomb,
supine in a shadowy corner of a cathedral.

Let us be as still and serene
as Richard II and Anne of Bohemia—
he who ended the Peasants' Revolt so ruthlessly
and she to whom he was so devoted,
now entombed together, hand in stone hand.

Let us close our eyes to the white room
and let the fan blades on the ceiling cool us
as they turn like the hands of a speeding clock.

Presented by

Billy Collins is a former poet laureate of the United States and currently serves as the poet laureate of New York. His new collection, The Trouble With Poetry, will be published this fall.

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