How agreeable it is not to be touring Italy this summer,
wandering her cities and ascending her torrid hilltowns.
How much better to cruise these local, familiar streets,
fully grasping the meaning of every roadsign and billboard
and all the sudden hand gestures of my compatriots.

There are no abbeys here, no crumbling frescoes or famous
domes and there is no need to memorize a succession
of kings or tour the dripping corners of a dungeon.
No need to stand around a sarcophagus, see Napoleon’s
little bed on Elba, or view the bones of a saint under glass.

How much better to command the simple precinct of home
than be dwarfed by pillar, arch, and basilica.
Why hide my head in phrase books and wrinkled maps?
Why feed scenery into a hungry, one-eyes camera
eager to eat the world one monument at a time?

Instead of slouching in a café ignorant of the word for ice,
I will head down to the coffee shop and the waitress
known as Dot. I will slide into the flow of the morning
paper, all language barriers down,
rivers of idiom running freely, eggs over easy on the way.

And after breakfast, I will not have to find someone
willing to photograph me with my arm around the owner.
I will not puzzle over the bill or record in a journal
what I had to eat and how the sun came in the window.
It is enough to climb back into the car

as if it were the great car of English itself
and sounding my loud vernacular horn, speed off
down a road that will never lead to Rome, not even Bologna.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Billy Collins's poem Consolation


  1. Sarah Jaeschke says:

    Just found this poem and find it brillant! How old is Billy Collins? I read the poem thinking he was a young man, but the content makes me think he is older.

  2. yann rolland says:

    how quietful is this poem and with so much siplicity and art…Thank you

  3. Larry Syldan says:

    Billy has a beautiful simplicity. This can be a problem with some people in that they might think that they have the whole poem after one reading. Not so. Below the surface, as below the surface of less lucid poems, is more meaning.

  4. Joy says:

    a fine poem.

  5. David says:

    I love the poems of Billy Collins. What I cannot stand is trying to read his poems in silence while the ads on the web page flash and dance and shout “Look at me! Look at me!”

  6. joe says:

    good poem

  7. Rao says:

    Beautiful poem! Everyday life is celebration!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Billy Collins better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.