Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins has been called arguably “the most popular poet in America,” not only for his accessible and often humorous work in print but also for his appearances on National Public Radio. – In 2001, Collins was named U.S. poet laureate.


Introduction to Poetry

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.

© Billy Collins

The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.


1 Response to “Introduction to Poetry”

  1. 1 Nimesh Dadia
    January 19, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Its beautiful. It reminds of a scene in the film “Il Postino” where the postman who delivers the post for Pablo Neruda and are at the sea shore and the postman asks him “What is Metaphore”

    The poet asks him to read his poem on the Sea and the Postman whilst reading the poem says that the words in the poem feels like waves in the sea and a boat moving across these waves.

    Pablo says ” well you have just invented a metaphore”

    Indeed its not the meaning of anything that matters but its the feeling of the poem thats what gives it life and keeps it eternal even 10 centuries later.


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