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On Turning Ten Analysis



Author: Poetry of Billy Collins Type: Poetry Views: 1491

The whole idea of it makes me feel

like I'm coming down with something,

something worse than any stomach ache

or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--

a kind of measles of the spirit,

a mumps of the psyche,

a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.You tell me it is too early to be looking back,

but that is because you have forgotten

the perfect simplicity of being one

and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.

But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.

At four I was an Arabian wizard.

I could make myself invisible

by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.

At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.But now I am mostly at the window

watching the late afternoon light.

Back then it never fell so solemnly

against the side of my tree house,

and my bicycle never leaned against the garage

as it does today,

all the dark blue speed drained out of it.This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,

as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.

It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,

time to turn the first big number.It seems only yesterday I used to believe

there was nothing under my skin but light.

If you cut me I could shine.

But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,

I skin my knees. I bleed.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

This poem was very interesting and use a lot of detail. It made me think of my childhood and my teen years of love, I saw this gurl dat twas soo hot! 1 day she wore short shorts and we could see her butt a little and she wore a jackest and we could see her chest but she had a bra.

| Posted on 2014-09-22 | by a guest


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This is a parody of other poems and blogs like on turning 30 on turning 50. The little boy turning 9 is mocking them. I mean srsly tg a grip

| Posted on 2014-09-06 | by a guest


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| Posted on 2013-04-18 | by a guest


.: :.

what are the language techniques used in this poem eg. simile, alliteration etc ???

| Posted on 2013-04-11 | by a guest


.: :.

i have to do a project on this poem so i really understand it now but i need to find the tone of this poem.

| Posted on 2012-05-14 | by a guest


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This poem is about the reluctance to grow up and how one can nvr forget ur childhood. This boy is mature for his age and had ald begun to miss his childhood, though ironically his childhood isn\'t yet over. And he knew his imaginary friends were fake why did he still miss having them around? I think he wants to have those times of innocence back. Back when he really believed they existed, back when life was filled with bright colours and not just made up of black and white. Childhood memories can nvr be forgotten even till death could u not end this flashbacks. Death ends a life, not a memory. It stays in ur heart and no cameras could capture that feeling right there.

| Posted on 2012-04-27 | by a guest


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I thisnk thsis about heem retardedd.cus heslkke ;look it me ims 10yrrs ld\"\" thaskn for readsding goodbei

| Posted on 2012-03-01 | by a guest


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The contrast between the energy of being a \'wizard\', a \'soldier\' and a \'prince and the solitude and stillness of being \'mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light\' is highly effective.
Also of great effect is the persona\'s high level of self-knowledge in being able to identify for himself, the \'beginning\' of sadness.
A great poem that captures childhood memories and future anxieties extremely well. Thank you for the poem.

| Posted on 2011-09-19 | by a guest


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This is an absolute shit poem. Collins can walk to the edge of the universe in his bloody sneakers and remain there

| Posted on 2011-06-12 | by a guest


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This poem is best read in a soft male's voice. Describing this poem isjust as difficult as making a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich with a goldfish and a shoe.

| Posted on 2009-11-04 | by a guest


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The poem on Turning Ten by Billy Collins, was written in 1996 and is about leaving the childhood behind and growing up. Having to mature and stop the own imagination. Turning a two digit number was presented very sad in the poem. Whereas still being a one (one digit number) was a lot easier, not caring about what other say, playing with the imaginary friend and playing in a tree house. But turning ten changes everything.
The poem is set up in one stanza where the lines are small, then big and then small again. There are 14 sentences and 32 lines, some of them are long, but others are very short so that the reader will think about these in particularly. There is no rhythm scheme, but there is a cadence which links the single lines. The tone of the poem is sad, due to the word choice which Collins chose “dark blue speed drained out of it” The color blue is a melancholic color which gives a feeling of sadness and drained is a very ruff and harsh word for a ten year old to use.
Billy Collins audience is anyone who is willing to look back into their childhood. It is for people who want to remember their childhood and who lived through the same as Collins did. He lets the audience close into the poem by using imagery which reminds the reader of their own childhood. Such as the blue bike, the tree house, wanting to be a wizard or pirate, these are all memories from many childhoods. Giving examples of all of the different magical and heroic figures that he wanted to be, lets the reader connect because many of the readers have had the same dreams and beliefs as children.
Collins starts the poem with stating what he is feeling to let the audience be touched. He uses images like “reading in bad light” and “measles” which are things which happen during the childhood and mixes these with words which are developed and don’t really fit into this childhood theme. “a kind of measles of the spirit” or “a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul”. Also that he uses images as chickenpox, which usually only happen once in a childhood, can be linked to starting to grow up. If the chicken pox has come, children think that they are turning older and maturing. On one side he is very unhappy that he has to grow up “its time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends” but on the other hand he seems to be a bit happy about finally growing up “the beautiful complexity introduced by two”.
Just by reading the poem, it seems as if the child has already matured a lot. Because he is thinking about all of these things, whereas he could just be playing with friends. But he is sitting in bed and thinking about something very important to him. “But I can lie on my bad and remember every digit” He does things which are actually very grown up, like “But now I am mostly at the window watching the late afternoon light”. He does not need to change anything anymore because the way that he acts he is already very mature, that is one of the messages that the author wants to bring in this poem.
Collins wants to say with this poem that it is hard leaving the childhood behind and starting to mature. However since he was not turning ten years old as he was writing this poem, there is a certain irony to it. It shows that even at any age it is possible to feel like having to leave the childhood behind. Or an aspect of life, because there is more responsibility which to be taken, when having a family for example.

| Posted on 2009-05-28 | by a guest


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This poem deals with the realities of growing up, as he refers to turning ten as a disease, similar to chicken pox, because sooner or later, we all get it. We all must grow up, leave our simple and happy lives behind and accept the real world and it's burdens that follow coming of age.

| Posted on 2009-05-17 | by a guest


.: touched :.

This poem came out in my O'levels. It deeply touched me when I read the lines,
"It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed."

Yup, the whole poem showed the boy's reluctance to accept that he is going to turn ten.
He described turning ten as diseases, for example, chicken pox.
He also knew that he is moving on to the more complicated side of life. No more imaginary friends. No more carefree days. More burdens to carry.

| Posted on 2007-11-08 | by a guest


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The last line of this poem alludes to Shelley's Ode to the West Wind and in the poem Collins is mocking Shelley. It is not about the complexity of becoming older but saying that Shelley was not old enough to look back it is just as insane as a 10 year old looking back on their life when the majority want to be older

| Posted on 2007-04-03 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem shows the reality of becoming older. it is not as exciting as it may seem because it is quite depressing to think that you cannot be a child anymore. not only do others expect more of you because you are now "mature", but you expect more of yourself too. it is no longer okay to have an imaginary friend when you are ten. oh no, that is no longer "cool". in addition your imagination starts to escape you and you no longer find the fun it playing with action heroes or Barbie and Ken. soon enough people expect you to have a boyfriend or girlfriend (you're eleven years old!!!)and you start to give into peer pressure. now you hardly recognize your childhood. it is gone from your grasp and can no longer be retrieved from the depths of your soul. Billy Collins truly portrays this sadness and great loss terrifically with his amazing poetic abilities.



| Posted on 2007-01-29 | by a guest


.: :.

this poem shows the reality of becoming older. it is not as exciting as it may seem because it is quite depressing to think that you cannot be a child anymore. not only do others expect more of you because you are now "mature", but you expect more of yourself too. it is no longer okay to have an imaginary friend when you are ten. oh no, that is no longer "cool". in addition your imagination starts to escape you and you no longer find the fun it playing with action heroes or Barbie and Ken. soon enough people expect you to have a boyfriend or girlfriend (you're eleven years old!!!)and you start to give into peer pressure. now you hardly recognize your childhood. it is gone from your grasp and can no longer be retrieved from the depths of your soul. Billy Collins truly portrays this sadness and great loss terrifically with his amazing poetic abilities.



| Posted on 2007-01-29 | by a guest


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1st Stanza
- references to sickness. negative connotations

2nd Stanza
-2nd & 3rd lines = nostalgic yearning
last four lines = humourous childlike dreams and images

3rd Stanza
-more serious tine contrasts with previous stanza

4th stanza
-repitition of "time"

Conclusion...
-makes reader reflect on own life and childhood
-ironic mature tone. strange for a child to think this way
-gives new perspective on aging and how old is old
-aging has nothing to do with age, more the extent of the general outlook on life.

| Posted on 2005-10-21 | by Approved Guest




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