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Billy Collins Essay

1503 words - 6 pages

Billy Collins: the Poet of Continuity and Change
From controversial events to ordinary life stories, Billy Collins writes about various topics in different perspectives just like a chameleon, changing its colors to fit with its surrounding. Collins talks in a gentle, yet humorous way; he illustrates a profound understanding through a clear observation. His writing style blends humor and solemnity in one entity. Throughout his poetry, Collins demonstrates, in a witty and satirical voice, his insightfulness towards the objects, using numerous poetic devices, especially allusions and metaphors to effectively convey his messages, most of which revolves around the theme of death.
Humor and Irony are a unique combinations Collins displays in many of his poems, challenging the readers to interpret his work in different perspectives. In “Introduction to Poetry,” Collins offers a witty comparison between the definition of poetry and various other experiments. He asks the reader to “hold [the poem] up to the light/ like a color slide” (1-3), “press an ear against its hive” (4), “drop a mouse into a poem” (5), “walk inside the poem's room” (7), and “waterski across the surface of a poem” (9-10). Rather than stiffly explaining the definition of a poem, he finds creative and humorous approaches to explain his methods of enjoying the poems, and promote the readers’ interest towards discovering the true meaning of poetry. Just as the surrounding would seem different through color slides, he asks the readers to see the world in diverse viewpoints while reading and writing poems. Moreover, by listening to poem’s hive, dropping a mouse, and walking inside its room, Collins encourages readers to discover the concealed depth of poetry. He comments that the readers should enjoy the poem in a way they would like to water ski. He changes the dull concept of reading poem line by line to a fun activity which the readers would surf upon it for hours. Along with “Introduction to Poetry,” in “The Lanyard,” the speaker recalls making a lanyard at camp for mother, and illustrates the powerful memories and connections ordinary objects can bring. By repeating “and I gave her a lanyard” (20), “and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard” (26), “And here is your lanyard” (29), or “and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp” (34), Collins emphasizes the humor and irony it rouses simultaneously: although his mother “gave [him] life and milk from her breasts,” all the narrator could give was “a boxy/ red and white lanyard” (19, 17-18). Collins creates a comical effect as the speaker continuously derides his gift; thus comparing the greatness of the mother’s nurture and the meagerness of what he could return. However, Collins narrates an irony that “this useless, worthless thing [he] wove/ out of boredom would be enough to make [them] even” (41-42). Though the two-tone plastic strips speaker braided are trivial, the action of giving touches his mother’s heart, and showed the...

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