Billy Collins

(22 March 1941 - / New York City)

Introduction To Poetry - Poem by 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.


Comments about Introduction To Poetry by Billy Collins

  • (11/14/2017 10:56:00 PM)


    Over analysis of anything is never good,
    You end up with nothing, understood,
    Like a dried out dish, that's overcooked.

    This is a striking poem not only for the original images and metaphors but also because of how vividly the poet presents his case.
    (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (11/11/2017 10:21:00 PM)


    Yes, we sometimes, truly struggle with some poems. Still, poet may have a definite objective in his/her mind, when the poem is crafted, like viewing it against light like a slide, or dropping a mouse in to it and watching how it would struggle to get out or finding walls in a room of poem etc. etc. It makes us thinking, indeed. Enjoyed. Thanks for sharing. X (Report) Reply

  • Akham Nilabirdhwaja Singh (11/11/2017 10:04:00 PM)


    Funny the ways trying to know a poem.Wonderful write.10 (Report) Reply

  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (11/11/2017 10:03:00 PM)


    That's sad!

    They begin beating it with a hose
    to find out what it really means.

    The fate of introduction to poetry.
    (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2017 4:08:00 PM)


    Poetry like life cannot always be figured out, sometimes the real beauty is simply in the participating in/with it. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/11/2017 1:01:00 PM)


    Such a meaningful poem, Billy.... congrats for being picked...10++++ (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (11/11/2017 5:29:00 AM)


    Here Them is the word we have to decipher its targeted category first. Otherwise another mistake we will have to commit again to misjudge the Poet. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/11/2017 1:06:00 AM)


    The poem's room! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • (11/11/2017 12:55:00 AM)


    Brilliantly expressed. Beautiful poem with lofty insight. (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (11/11/2017 12:47:00 AM)


    The Heading of the poem is not apposite. It could have been called Torturing To Death.

    Although, poking fun, there is an element of seriousness. Many poets strangle their poems.10

    Robert
    (Report) Reply

  • Sylvia Frances Chan (9/24/2017 10:40:00 AM)


    Excellent poem. Hilarious situation.. Best Introduction to Poetry, better than I had when I was still studying the matter at my faculty of letters. Thank you for your subtile humor, which I like very much. Thank you for sharing much sun on a grey day. A TEN for your entertainment of this class, Billy. Regards from Silly, I MEAN Sylvie of course, (Report) Reply

  • (6/3/2017 9:48:00 AM)


    This is so lovely.There is this new collection of poems Soul Etchings. It features a new style and refreshing forms. you can get the poem here goo.gl/KkhYF0 (Report) Reply

  • (6/3/2017 9:45:00 AM)


    This is so lovely. There's a new collection Soul Etchings. It portrays Originality, Style and a refreshing sense of form. These poets may be the futrue of Poetry, you can get the collection here goo.gl/KkhYF0 (Report) Reply

    Sylvia Frances Chan Sylvia Frances Chan (9/24/2017 10:42:00 AM)

    But dear Frank, please need not to go, these poems suffice. Thank you.

  • Robert Murray Smith (4/19/2017 6:31:00 AM)


    This poem speaks to me. A poem is a poem not a mysterious artifact.+++10 (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (1/7/2017 3:55:00 PM)

    tom allport
    I agree? every prospective poet should sit an exam and on passing it they would be given a license to practice poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Ernest Makuakua (1/29/2016 4:11:00 AM)


    true sometimes we just have to find the meaning to understand what the poem is about
    simply because we write with a motive

    thanks for sharing love it.
    i invite you to read my new poem. What is poetry to you
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/25/2016 8:19:00 AM)


    Pretty much sums it up. And then you got people trying to tell everyone what some of this surrealistic type material written by Ashbury and Stevens is all about and none of them can arrive at a concensus. It is nice to see something written in plain English about the subject. (Report) Reply

  • Wes Dixon (11/25/2015 3:07:00 PM)


    Yup...that's what I remember from 8th grade English Class! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (10/29/2015 7:22:00 PM)


    When I was younger, about 10 or 15 years ago, I don't know I have lost count, I thought that poetry had rules and what I was writing was faulty or just simply rubbish... What time has taught me is that there are no rules in poetry, no fouls to commit, there is only your naked soul, laid down right there, exposed. Only this time it felt more secure than ever... (Report) Reply

  • (9/9/2015 9:15:00 AM)


    This man no poet nor fine artist.His writings are quite bland and without panache.-Albert George Vinny (Report) Reply

Read all 50 comments »

# 75 poem on top 500 Poems

User Rating:
4,4 / 5 ( 157 votes ) 48



What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: poem, light, poetry



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



[Report Error]