Learning from Billy Collins


Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States of America,

Said one thing that struck me, struck and instructed me:

The one thing he said had two beautiful parts,

Finely polished by years of hard work at a craft

Which he partly chose and which mainly chose him.


Thing one: rhythm.

Thing two: metaphor.


Billy Collins said:

These are two things that one either has or doesn’t have.

They are gifts which are the key to the craft.


I immediately understood what Billy Collins meant:

A poem must have the gift of Rhythm,

The words must be in accord,

Peacefully marrying each other,

Giving life to the poem.



A poem must show that the poet understands Metaphor,

That when the poet writes “meadow,”

It means something more than a field at peace, and

When the poet writes “candle,”

It means more than a mesh in a waxen, upright thing.


This is what I learned from Billy Collins.


--December 30, 2013