Riehlife Poem-of-the-Day: “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins

by Billy Collins
from The Apple that Astonished Paris

During my Poem-of-the-Day series on Riehlife we’ll have a mixture of named poets & others just like the rest of us. My friend Stephanie Farrow in Albuquerque, New Mexico chooses the Big Name Poets. She sends her picks out via email every day. I’ll be scooping up some of these. Here’s what Stephanie has to say. —JGR

Spring has sprung, April’s here, and–at last!–it’s National Poetry Month. What a delightful excuse to seed the universe, or at least one small part of it, with poems.

I’ll be sending out one poem a day for the month. Their common element is that I like or admire them for one reason or another. Lyrical
language, clever word play, humor, provocative theme, beautiful imagery–any of these is enough to warrant passing the poem on to someone else who might enjoy it.

Let’s start with Billy Collins, a firm believer in the fine art of foolishness and keeping things in perspective.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to water ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

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