Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins
Introduction to Poetry Summary
Okay, class. Take your seats please.
Right from the get-go this poem has a scholastic feel. We start with a title that is basically straight out of a course catalog. Add to that the fact that the speaker of the poem is a teacher (albeit an unusual one), and we're all set for school.
In the poem, the speaker (a teacher) describes how he tries to get "them" (the students) to approach a poem. But try as he might, the teacher can't get the students to appreciate the poem (or poetry) at all—any of this sound familiar?
The teacher wants the students to really listen to the sounds in the poem, to look at it, to truly experience it for what it is. And that's a piece of art. But the students just want to figure out what the darn thing is about, and they are willing to use any means necessary to get at the truth (warning: things take a violent turn in stanza six).
There is a lesson being taught in this poem, but it is not presented to us in a traditional, academic way. On the bright side, the poem is, as poems go, pretty straightforward.