Poem of the Week, by Billy Collins

Memento Mori
– Billy Collins

There is no need for me to keep a skull on my desk,
to stand with one foot up on the ruins of Rome,
or wear a locket with the sliver of a saint’s bone.

It is enough to realize that every common object
in this sunny little room will outlive me–
the carpet, radio, bookstand and rocker.

Not one of these things will attend my burial,
not even this dented goosenecked lamp
with its steady benediction of light,

though I could put worse things in my mind
than the image of it waddling across the cemetery
like an old servant, dragging the tail of its cord,
the small circle of mourners parting to make room.


For more information on Billy Collins, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/billy-collins


  1. Zizzle · February 18, 2013

    Only I would do something like this while vacationing in Aruba: Call one of the funeral homes on the island and ask for a tour. The one I called was named Mementomori. The owner, in his Harley Davidson tee-shirt (almost identical to the one his mom, the other owner, was wearing), explained to me, “It means, ‘Remember: you are gonna die.'” And while the Aruban accent is tough to describe, let’s just say that, in my memory, there was just a hint of Roseanne Roseannadana to it.

    When I used to vacation with my parents, my dad would always tell my brother and me to “soak it up.” Well, Dad, and because I did so in Aruba, I know what Billy Collins’ poem is about before the first stanza.


  2. Rebecca A. · February 21, 2013

    delightful nursery rhyme image of the lamp waddling, dragging its cord. interesting in a poem that is not about a cheery subject.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s