An Opinion on Poetry

delaney risse
3 min readApr 22, 2021

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Photo [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] 2010 by Rachel Knickmeyer

Billy Collins wrote a poem called “Introduction to Poetry” where he uses metaphors to uniquely describe ways to examine a poem. I thoroughly enjoy his use of language and effective imagery because it allowed me to understand his perspective towards understanding the meaning of poetry.

I often feel that analyzing poetry is painful and unappealing. It is quite possibly my least favorite part of English class. Perhaps the act of doing this is daunting because I am afraid to fail or misinterpret a line, but I also find it somewhat boring. The way Collins describes reviewing poetry, however, excites me. His metaphors make me want to rip apart a poem and sew it back together and do it all over again. I can envision the words being tugged this way and that as the mouse moves through the lines, or the letters of the words rippling as the waterski skims the surface.

Perhaps my favorite part of the poem is the second to last stanza because it reflects my view of poetry. I feel as though many teachers have students “torture a confession out of [poems].” This is what aggravates me. Why must there always be a deeper meaning? Is there always a deeper meaning? Who are teachers to assume what these poets intended to say? This is why I agree so much with Collins’ poem. I feel that poetry does not always require tearing through lines with a magnifying glass, forcing words to reveal their underlying meaning.

Now, I wouldn’t say that dissecting a poem is always bad. I think it is a good skill to learn and helps promote confidence in one’s thoughts and analysis. I know that times where I have received accolades from a teacher for a correct interpretation, my confidence soared. I think that poetry can help develop critical thinking skills and creativity. Writing poetry has allowed me to be creative and discover new ways to get my thoughts across to my readers. However, I have never expected my readers to completely understand what I am trying to say.

I think that is another important part of interpreting poetry. I don’t believe that there is always one answer or one meaning behind lines or words in a poem. I like to believe that a lot of poets write poems for themselves, but also to open the eyes of readers to new ideas. Collaborating on examining poetry has always resulted in me seeing new perspectives or interpretations. I think that this is the magical world of poetry Collins is describing. There is no one way to examine a poem, and that is what makes poetry so special. There are boundless possibilities of meanings in not only poetry, but all works of literature, and this is what I find so alluring about the subject.

I also enjoy poems that are not particularly serious. Collins’ biography reads that he is well-known for his witty poems. I think when most people think of poetry they think of the stereotype of deep and complex writing. Collins is a very successful poet, and his success goes to show that his “quirky” poems can be just as popular, if not more. Our society’s forms of entertainment have become bigger and larger than life. Comedy is a large part of this, so I think it is apt that poetry has adapted to fit a contemporary mold that would appeal to a current audience, especially teenagers.

Poetry is a freeing form of literature. It has no rules or standards that must be followed and allows for one to open the mind to new possibilities and ways of thinking. While I might not completely enjoy analyzing poetry, Collins has allowed me to view interpreting and understanding poetry in a new light. He makes poetry sound thrilling.

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