Study Guide

Man Listening to Disc Friendship

By Billy Collins

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The speaker is walking around on his own in "Man Listening to Disc." But the thing is, he's not alone. That's because he's listening to four awesome jazz musicians on his headphones, and it's as if those jazz musicians are walking along with him. So, even though the speaker may have never met—or even seen—these musicians in real life, he feels like they're his buddies. In this sense, Collins' poem can be read as a tribute to friendship.

Questions About Friendship

  1. How does music create a bond of friendship between the speaker and the musicians that he's listening to in this poem?
  2. The speaker describes the musicians as though they're actually accompanying him on his walk, even though they're not actually there. What does this imagery suggest about how close he feels to these musicians?
  3. In what ways does the poem suggest that being "alone" is different from being "lonely"?

Chew on This

This poem shows us that it's possible to form a bond of friendship with people who don't know us.

Sorry there speaker, but we can only be friends with people who we know and who know us.

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