Study Guide

Introduction to Poetry Stanza 7

By Billy Collins

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Stanza 7

Line 15

They begin beating it with a hose

  • Ouch! That's going to leave a mark. Those mean, mean students. They are attacking that perfectly friendly poem, with all those nice little rooms. Why? Why the brutality?

Line 16

to find out what it really means.

  • In this final line, we find out what the students want the poem to confess. The purpose of the torture is to discover the poem's meaning.
  • In the end, we can see Collins is arguing that the students are trying to discover what the poem is trying to say without really listening.
  • They want to see the truth, but they don't take the time to look around and find a light switch or two. They focus too much on meaning and forget the fun, the excitement, the art.
  • To sum up—if more students spent their study time doing some literary waterskiing, there would be less poem torture in the world and that would make Billy Collins, and Shmoop, happy.

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