Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like 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.

What is the poet saying in this poem?  Use examples from the poem in your explanation.  Do you agree with the poet?


  1. I agree with this poem. The poem is saying to listen to a poem and listen to how it sounds, not to think so hard aboout a poem. Don't break a poem up into little bits to figure out the meaning, or the poem won't mean anything anymore.

  2. I agree with Hannah. The poem won't mean anything anymore if you break it up into little bits. The first time you read a poem you fall in love with it. You take it for a walk and dance with it. But, like in the poem, most people try to beat a confession out of the poem of what it means. The interpretations are endless with a poem, so it will take you to the end of time to figure out what it means. Enjoy the poet's extensive vocabulary of poetry.

  3. I think Billy Collins is tryiny to say alot in his poem, "Introduction to Poetry" But I think the overall message to the poem is don't kill something to the point where you don't ever want to read it again. You should always make an effort to love something, but keep its mysteries a secret, because that is what thrills you when you read a passage. Also I agree that you shouldn't peel something apart to try to figure out what it is saying, just keep it in hiding, because that is when it means something. -J.S.

  4. Billy Collins is telling us that poems are moer then words, it's like: "like a color slide",
    " a room for a mouse to probe through", or "a place to waterski". I aggree that a poem can be more then just words.

  5. what the poem means by "waterski across the surface" is that you should just read a pome and not think too much about it.

  6. The poem is saying that you should enjoy a poem and not spend all your effort reading it over and over trying to figure out what it means. You shouldjust enjoy the poem and read it for enjoyment and not to torture yourself studying it and not letting it express itself. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it.

  7. I think the poem is saying that instead of taking a poem apart piece by piece, we sould listen to it, let the rythem flow through your soul. This Poem says, don't try to see what a peom mean, try to feel what a poem means. Enjoy a poem, do not puzzle over it.If you dissect a poem to the very last word, the poem loses its magic. Sure, now you now what the poem means, but it loses its shine, its feeling. You no longer feel any emotion,toward the poem. A poem doesn't need to make sense, it needs to make you feel.

  8. I think that the poet is trying to say that you should take the time to enjoy a poem and let its magic toke you over, not rip it limb from limb trying to find the meaning of it. This is true because poems lose their magic and sometimes become annoying if you are ripping it limb from limb.