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Analysis to the Introduction of poetry by Billy Collins
Transcript of Analysis to the Introduction of poetry by Billy Collins
by, Billy Collins Why must we analyze and, essentially, dissect poems? born in 1941 in New York City What is the tone of the poem? In the poem, the tone that I feel the author sets for the reader is one of cheerfulness. Throughout the duration of the poem, Collins paints the picture of poetry being a fun yet, difficult and complex, medium of literature to be enjoyed lightly. As exhibited through the poem when he uses reference to waterskiing a fun sport that provokes happiness and fun, a maze that represents its complexity and difficulty to understand. Even though the last two stanzas stand at a contrast it's presented in a humorous way despite the mention of torture and violence. How this poem would be relevant to class: If this poem were to be the first poem introduced to class before a long poetry lesson I think a lot of kids would enjoy it. It's a light-hearted and silly message with an easily extracted meaning. Also, it gives ample opportunity for an easy example into irony. Overall, it creates a wonderful and fun start to poetry, and can be highly relatable to those who feel they've ruined their liking of a poem because of all the over analyzing. Personally, I love poetry. It gives life to a whole other side to literature that gives the author certain liberties to express their thoughts and/or feelings, whether it's caught in brief phrases or elongated through image provoking words. However, a lot of poetry, placing more emphasis on the ones we study in class, require us to pick apart the underlying meaning and, essentially, pulling apart the poem. Fortunately, it does build upon skills to interpret and infer, which essentially is the importance of it being brought up in any literature based class, but in the process it takes away from enjoyment that comes with it. Even though, I am one to still enjoy poetry after the fact, many students are left with a bad taste in their mouth because of it. Billy Collins Education: Billy Collins earned his BA from the College of Holy Cross, and then furthered his education from the University of California-Riverside where he earned both his MA and PhD. Professional Accomplishments: In 1975 he co-founded the Mid-Atlantic Review with Michael Shannon. Collins continued to publish throughout the 1980s but, it was his fourth book, Questions about Angels (1991), that thrusted him into the literary spotlight. Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes (2000) was the first Collins collection published outside the US. It selected work from his previous four books and was met with great acclaim in the UK. Career: Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY, professor of English, begining 1971. Writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College; served as Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. Performs poetry readings; has appeared on National Public Radio. Bibliography: Pokerface, limited edition, Kenmore, 1977.
Video Poems, Applezaba (Long Beach, CA), 1980.
The Apple That Astonished Paris, University of Arkansas Press (Fayetteville, AR), 1988.
Questions about Angels, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1999.
The Art of Drowning, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1995.
Picnic, Lightning, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998.
Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes, Picador (London, England), 2000.
Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.
Nine Horses: Poems, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
The Trouble with Poetry, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.
She was Just Seventeen (chapbook), Modern Haiku Press (Lincoln, IL), 2006.
Ballistics, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.
Horoscopes for the Dead, Random House (New York, NY), 2011. What's the situation? Throughout the poem Collins introduces poetry as something full of positivity and wonder. Explaining in an almost humorous way of how rewarding poetry is, even with its difficulties and complexities. Letting the reader know that poems, with patience will reveal itself like a "color slide." In the last couple stanzas of the poem Collins exemplifies what not to do to poetry, which includes over analyzing and questioning it. However, the irony in the poem (which is based around kids) is that at this time it's what's required in class. Thus, the poem turns into a satire about how wonderful poetry is when one doesn't have to take it too seriously. In the poem it takes a light hearted approach at first to discuss the whimsical ways which one should approach a poem. The descriptive way in which the author suggest how one should pursue the interest in poems illustrate the fun complexity it possesses, but it all results in the poem becoming battered and tortured for its meaning. I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the lightlike a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means. Why choose this poem? Why did I choose this poem? A better question is why wouldn't I? From the moment I read this poem it contained all the elements I look for in any work of literature: humor, cleverness, and thought-provoking underlying meaning. It's definitely a poem I'm glad I came across and am happy to elaborate and share. And, it helps that it's completely relatable to me. How does imagery shape meaning? In the poem, Collins use of imagery is the backbone with which the poem thrives. Beginning in the opening stanza when Collins writes: "I ask them to take a poem/and hold it up to the light/like a color slide" (1-3) this becomes an example for the rest of the poem. Those lines illustrate how a poem when observed in better circumstance is something to admire. It then proceeds to use the analogy of a mouse in maze to compare how one would uncover the complex meaning of the poem. However, the poem should be admired for its amazement and complexity, but as the last stanza points out, many people restrict the poem to rigid questioning in order to find out its true meaning. How does metaphor/simile shape meaning? Collins' uses of metaphor and simile in the poem aids in the shaping of the poems meaning. For example, in stanza one, he compares a poem to a color slide. Thus by doing so he illustrates to the reader that a poem needs to be observed closely and when it's examined well enough in the "light" it shows the reader beautiful colors like that of a color slide. Later on he compares a poem to a maze and the reader a mouse trying to navigate it. This stanza compares the complexity and unfamiliarity of a poem to a new reader. It exemplifies another quality about poems. However, like most English teachers require, Collins states: "But all they want to do/is tie the poem to a chair with rope/and torture a confession out of it." In one of the final stanzas of the poem Collins describes how a poem is a physical being able to be tortured for meaning. With the use of this metaphorical phrase it can be observed that poems are regarded with more practicality and analysis than enjoyment and pleasure as the poem highlights How does personification shape meaning? The poem also displays some personification, but it is quite brief. Collins, in the sixth stanza depicts poetry as a person tied down and severely questioned. Due to this interpretation of the poem it shows the reader how, by over analyzing and questioning the poem, they're taking the fun out of it. Bibliography: Poetry Foundation. 1998. University of Arkansas Press. 2012 <http://www.poetryfoundation.org>