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Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

Because things are beginning again, and I am hoping more people discover poetry this year.

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.

From Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins, published by Random House, 2002. ()

Comments (3)

  • sh.

    — But all they want to do
    is tie the poem to a chair with rope
    and torture a confession out of it. —

    brilliant stanza. here’s to a year where Readers do not beat confessions out of anything – and allow infinite spaces, between people and things – the only way to ever understand anything, maybe..

    reply
  • Nikoel

    I have to thank you. This website has proved to be a great outlet for me and I discovered it not too long ago. Thank you for giving me a place where poetry runs free and I don’t have to discuss it with someone only to have to give in to what they say.

    reply
  • This is my favorite poem by Billy Collins. 🙂

    reply

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