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The Art Of Drowning Analysis

Author: poem of Billy Collins Type: poem Views: 19

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I wonder how it all got started, this business

about seeing your life flash before your eyes

while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,

could startle time into such compression, crushing

decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away

in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope

for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand

turning the pages of an album of photographs-

you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.

How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?

Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?

Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash?

Your whole existence going off in your face

in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography-

nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.

Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance

here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,

an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,

dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.

But if something does flash before your eyes

as you go under, it will probably be a fish,

a quick blur of curved silver darting away,

having nothing to do with your life or your death.

The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all

as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,

leaving behind what you have already forgotten,

the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds.


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Drowning is a symbol for the deep pits that people find themselves in, and they think back to what they have become and what has happened to them in the past.

| Posted on 2010-03-22 | by a guest

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