“Introduction to Poetry” 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.

“Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins, from The Apple That Astonished Paris. © University of Arkansas Press, 1996.

5 thoughts on ““Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins

    1. You know, I think that’s where I actually discovered this poem (and Collins), but from the printed book version. I laughed at Collins’s intro; he said (paraphrase), it’s a good poem, if I like the poem, it’s a bad poem if I don’t like it. Such logic, arrogant, but logical, and true, especially in the minds of students. 🙂


    1. Probably. I know I’ve mentioned a couple Collins pieces. He’s a cocky little guy, or at least comes across that way in his work, but I can’t help but like him. I’ve got one or two more scheduled in the weeks ahead. 🙂


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