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Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry


by Billy Collins

Stanza 6 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 12

But all they want to do

  • This line represents an important shift from what the speaker wants them to do, to what "they want to do."
  • Collins uses a technique called enjambment to build a little suspense here. We don't find out what they want to do until the next line.

Line 13

is tie the poem to a chair with rope

  • Whoa! Things have taken an ugly turn. We've seen this movie, and it doesn't have a happy ending.
  • It is important to note that the poem is being restrained, restricted. The poem is tied to a chair. Fun's over.
  • Whoop, Whoop! (Okay, no more sound effects. That was the last time. Promise.) Collins gives us another metaphor here. The poem tied to the chair is a metaphor for all those things you think it would be a metaphor for: restriction, loss of freedom, lack of movement, and just about all things negative and ouchy.
  • Bad things are coming in the poem and Billy wants to make sure that we get it. We do.

Line 14

and torture a confession out of it.

  • See? We knew things were heading in a nasty direction. Torture! Bad!
  • They (the students) are trying to torture a confession out of the poem—trying to get the poem to give up the goods. They want the poem to confess and they are willing to use any means necessary.
  • While those of you who have taken Mr./Ms. X's (insert name of toughest teacher at your school) class might argue this point, torture has no place in academic pursuits.
  • Seeking truth is good. Blindly seeking answers is bad.

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