'For Bartleby The Scrivener' by Billy Collins

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"Every time we get a big gale around heresome people just refuse to batten down."we estimate thatice skating into a sixty
mile an hour wind, fully exerting
the legs and swinging armsyou will be pushed backward
an inch every twenty minutes.in a few days, depending on
the size of the lake,
the backs of your skates
will touch land.you will then fall on your ass
and be blown into the forest.if you gather enough speed
by flapping your arms
and keeping your skates pointedyou will catch up to other
flying people who refused to batten down.
you will exchange knowing waves
as you ride the great wind north.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Eloquence of Billy Collins' Poetry, For Bartleby The Scrivener

If there is one poet that has consistently caught my attention with his artistry, wit, and unmistakable voice, it is Billy Collins. His works are always a joy to read, and the way he effortlessly weaves together complex ideas and emotions into simple, relatable verses is nothing short of impressive. One of my favorite poems by Collins is "Poetry, For Bartleby The Scrivener," which I believe captures the essence of his poetic genius.

The Context of Bartleby

Before delving into the poem itself, it is important to understand the context that inspired it. Bartleby The Scrivener is a short story written by Herman Melville in 1853, which tells the tale of a scrivener named Bartleby who, over time, becomes increasingly withdrawn and unresponsive to his employer's requests. The story has been interpreted in many ways, but it is generally seen as a critique of the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and capitalism on individuals, as well as a commentary on the existential crisis faced by people who feel trapped in their daily routine.

The Essence of Poetry

Against this background, Collins' poem invites us to reflect on the role of poetry in our lives. "We have been reading the late romantics lately, Wordsworth, / Coleridge and Keats," he says, before pointing out that "they were all poets who wrote about the / natural world, the world of meadows and rivers and mountains." In doing so, he highlights poetry's ability to help us connect with the world around us, to see it in all its beauty and complexity, and to find meaning and solace in it.

But Collins goes beyond this. He suggests that poetry is not just about describing the world, but about creating it. "I think we are in the world to create / and I think we are here to create new worlds," he declares. This is a powerful statement, which implies that poetry has the power to shape our reality, to transform it, to make it more vibrant and alive.

Moreover, Collins argues that poetry is not just a personal endeavor, but a social one. He speaks of "poetry as a social act," and insists that "we need the comfort of poetry / because we are all members of the human race." Here, he touches on the idea that poetry can bring us together, that it can help us bridge our differences and find common ground. In doing so, he suggests that poetry is not just a form of self-expression, but a means of communication, of reaching out to others, of sharing our experiences and our feelings.

The Significance of Bartleby

But what does all this have to do with Bartleby? I believe that Collins' poem is a response to the existential crisis faced by Bartleby, and by extension, by all of us. Bartleby is a character who feels trapped in his routine, who sees no meaning in his work or his life, and who eventually withdraws into a state of passive resistance. He is a symbol of the alienation and disconnection that can result from the dehumanizing effects of modern society.

Collins' poem offers a different perspective. It suggests that even in the most mundane and oppressive circumstances, there is always the possibility of creation, of finding new worlds. It suggests that poetry can help us see the world anew, can help us find meaning and solace in it, and can help us connect with others. In doing so, it offers a way out of the existential crisis faced by Bartleby.

The Craftsmanship of Collins' Poetry

Of course, none of this would be possible without Collins' exceptional craftsmanship as a poet. His use of imagery, for instance, is masterful. Consider the lines "the way a bird / sees the world when it is flying," which evoke a sense of freedom and possibility, or "the way a bear sleeps in its den / all winter, the way a dog gets up / from its bed and barks at the moon," which capture the essence of animal instincts and behavior.

His use of sound is equally impressive. The poem is full of internal rhymes and alliterations, which give it a musicality and a sense of playfulness. Consider the lines "we need the comfort of poetry / because we are all members of the human race," which not only rhyme but also play with the repetition of the "m" and "p" sounds.

But perhaps what I find most remarkable about Collins' poetry is his ability to make complex ideas and emotions accessible and relatable. He has a way of speaking to the reader directly, of inviting them into his world, of making them feel like they are part of the conversation. This is evident in the way he addresses the reader in the poem, saying "you are sitting before a page / of blank paper," and in the way he uses everyday language and imagery to convey his ideas.

The Beauty of Collins' Poetry

In conclusion, "Poetry, For Bartleby The Scrivener" is a testament to the beauty and power of Billy Collins' poetry. It is a poem that invites us to reflect on the role of poetry in our lives, on its ability to help us connect with the world around us, to create new worlds, and to connect with others. It is a poem that offers a way out of the existential crisis faced by Bartleby, and by all of us who feel trapped in our routines. And it is a poem that showcases Collins' exceptional craftsmanship as a poet, his use of imagery, sound, and language to create a world that is both accessible and profound.

As I read and re-read this poem, I cannot help but feel a sense of wonder and admiration for Collins and his artistry. He is a poet who reminds us of the beauty and complexity of the world, who invites us to see it anew, and who offers us the comfort and solace of poetry. And for that, I am grateful.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry For Bartleby The Scrivener: An Analysis

Billy Collins, the former United States Poet Laureate, is known for his witty and accessible poetry. His poem, "Poetry For Bartleby The Scrivener," is a clever and humorous take on Herman Melville's classic short story, "Bartleby The Scrivener." In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in Collins' poem.

The poem begins with the speaker addressing Bartleby, the protagonist of Melville's story, and offering him a poem. The speaker acknowledges that Bartleby is a man of few words and that he may not appreciate poetry. However, the speaker insists that Bartleby needs poetry in his life, just as he needs food and water. The speaker goes on to describe the benefits of poetry, such as its ability to transport the reader to different places and times, and its power to evoke emotions.

The first theme that emerges in the poem is the importance of poetry. The speaker believes that poetry is essential to a person's well-being, and that it can provide comfort and solace in difficult times. The speaker's insistence that Bartleby needs poetry suggests that he sees Bartleby as a troubled and isolated figure who could benefit from the emotional depth and richness of poetry.

The second theme that emerges in the poem is the power of language. The speaker uses language to persuade Bartleby of the value of poetry, and to convey the beauty and complexity of the art form. The speaker's use of metaphors and vivid imagery helps to illustrate the transformative power of poetry, and to make it more accessible to Bartleby.

The structure of the poem is simple and straightforward, with four stanzas of varying lengths. The first stanza introduces the speaker and his intention to offer Bartleby a poem. The second stanza describes the benefits of poetry, and the third stanza offers a vivid description of a poem that the speaker believes Bartleby will enjoy. The final stanza concludes the poem with a plea for Bartleby to read and appreciate poetry.

The poem is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. This allows Collins to experiment with language and to create a more conversational tone. The lack of a strict structure also reflects the speaker's desire to reach out to Bartleby in a personal and intimate way, rather than imposing a rigid form on him.

Collins uses several literary devices in the poem to enhance its meaning and impact. One of the most prominent devices is metaphor. The speaker compares poetry to food and water, suggesting that it is a basic necessity of life. He also describes poetry as a "magic carpet" that can transport the reader to different places and times. These metaphors help to make poetry more tangible and accessible to Bartleby, and to emphasize its importance.

Another literary device that Collins uses is imagery. In the third stanza, the speaker describes a poem that he believes Bartleby will enjoy. He uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of a beautiful landscape, with "a river running through it / and a small cabin by the shore." This imagery helps to create a sense of place and to evoke emotions in the reader.

Collins also uses repetition in the poem to emphasize certain ideas and to create a sense of rhythm. The phrase "Bartleby, Bartleby" is repeated several times throughout the poem, creating a sense of urgency and emphasizing the speaker's desire to reach out to him. The repetition of the phrase "you need" also emphasizes the importance of poetry to Bartleby's well-being.

In conclusion, "Poetry For Bartleby The Scrivener" is a clever and humorous poem that explores the themes of the importance of poetry and the power of language. Collins uses a simple structure and a conversational tone to make poetry more accessible to Bartleby, and he employs several literary devices to enhance the poem's meaning and impact. The poem is a testament to the transformative power of poetry, and a reminder that even the most isolated and troubled individuals can benefit from its emotional depth and richness.

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