white and pink flower field
Youth Voices
Youth Voices
“TODAY” by Billy Collins - Read by Kaimea
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If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

I chose this poem.  Or, rather, it chose me.  I enjoyed reading about a perfect spring day and how the main character wanted to open the doors of cages to share and enjoy this perfect day with everyone and everything. My first impression of this poem was confusion.  The poem moved me, yet, at the same time, made me perplexed.  A line that particularly makes me feel moved is, “and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage.” 

I am perplexed when I read the lines, “a hammer to the glass paperweight on the living room end table, releasing the inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage”.  This could be because I am confused why the glass paperweight is being smashed by a hammer, are the “inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage” inside the paper weight? Perhaps he is trying to free the inhabitants from their cottage inside the paper weight. 

What I know about the situation – what’s happening in the poem – is that the author frees various things from whatever restrictions they have, so that they can enjoy the nice spring day too. What I know about the speaker is that they are the kind of person who enjoys sharing good things with others.  This is suggested by the words “and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage, indeed, rip the little door from its jamb.” 

The speaker seems to be speaking to the readers, and perhaps to his friends.  I say this because he could be telling the readers what he would do on a perfect spring day, and when he talks about opening the cage door and smashing the paperweight, he may be referring to whatever barriers that are restricting his friends from enjoying a perfect day with him.  The poem doesn’t seem to spring from a particular historical moment. The poem revolves around several themes, including hope and joy.

If this poem were a question, the answer would be “ share and enjoy good things with others”.  If it were an answer, the question would be “what would you do on a perfect day?”  The title suggests today is a perfect day.

The poem’s form is free verse.  This form is a vehicle for the content of the poem.  If the poem were, say,  a ballad, it would not guide me toward an understanding of its meaning. The free verse gives a form of creativity and helps the readers to enjoy it and understand it better. The author could use whatever words he wants and it doesn’t need to rhyme or have a certain flow.

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Nico
April 24, 2021 11:03 pm

Dear Kaimea,
I am thankful for your poem, “TODAY,” because It was very calming. Each word you read had emphasis.
A line that stood out for me is, “a day with the cool brick paths, and the garden bursting with peonies”. I think this line is amusing because of how the garden and the paths around are described. I could Imagine the cool brick on my feet and the peonies that engulf you. Another line that stands out for me is, “Into this larger dome of blue and white, well today is just that kind of day ”. I think this line is thought provoking because it makes you realize that we are all just in a blue and white dome which we call earth. It makes you realize how small we are compared to everything else.
Thanks for your poem. I look forward to seeing what you make next.

Luisa
April 24, 2021 11:02 pm

I liked how you explained why you chose this poem and I liked how you read the poem and tried your best to portray the tone of the poem. Also, how you explained what the poem means and why you thought it meant by giving an example.

Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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