Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What Do You Do with Poetry?

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

*Unfortunately, I was one of those people who would try to persuade an answer from a poem for quite some time. I finally learned to enjoy poetry in my Modern Poetry in Translation class, which I took my fourth year at Poly. That's quite some time especially when you're an English major.

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