The Lanyard by former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins is a poem that is simultaneously amusing and poignant. It demonstrates the disparity between what a mother gives to her child and what is reciprocated. Yet, the poet “ruefully admits” that, through the lens of unconditional love, there is no visible difference.
The Lanyard was published in Collins’ book The Trouble with Poetry (Random House, 2005). You can read the poem on his site and you can listen to Collins read it in the video below. You can also listen to a 2005 episode of All Things Considered that is available for download on the NPR website. In the six-minute interview, Collins discusses and reads his poetry from The Trouble with Poetry.