Poetry, The Daily Blog

Introduction to Poetry, and Goodbye to a Class

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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.


I have a lot of thoughts about this week’s poem. I am filled with emotion at this point in the year, when there are only days left…hours…minutes. I imagine that I feel similar (albeit to a much lesser degree) to the way a parent sending a child off to college might feel: reflective over our time together, proud because they have come so far, and anxious about what the upcoming years might hold for them.

I plan to write another post about this tomorrow, but for now I’d just like to think that maybe my students are leaving me with a few new thoughts, a few new skills, and few new ideas about the world they live in. They may not yet be waterskiing across poems the way I hope they will one day be able to, but I know they have come a long way in the last two years we’ve spent together. They’ll get there. It just might take a little while…