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Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry


by Billy Collins

Introduction to Poetry Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. "Introduction to Poetry" is divided into seven stanzas. Three of the stanzas have two lines and three of the stanzas have three lines. One stanza, stanza 2, only has one line. Did Collins make a mistake? Did he just get lazy? Why do you think Collins chose to make line 4 its own stanza? What effect does this structural decision have on the reading of the poem?
  2. How would you describe the speaker's tone in the poem? Is this poem meant to be funny or serious? How are we meant to feel about the situation the speaker describes? How are we meant to feel about poetry by the end of the thing?
  3. Why does Collins use personification when he describes the poem in the last two stanzas? What effect does the personification have on the poem's ending?
  4. The speaker asks the students to "feel the [poem's] walls for a light switch," something to shed some light, illuminate, excite. Did you find any light switches in "Introduction to Poetry," any places that made you happy, or inspired, or interested? Where were they (what lines or words), and what attracted you to them?
  5. We mentioned in our "In a Nutshell" section that Billy Collins is a teacher. Based on this poem, would you like to take a class from him? Why or why not?

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