When Was Introduction To Poetry Written

Overview of Introduction to Poetry

Introduction to Poetry, written by American poet and playwright Billy Collins, is a 15 line poem consisting of 5 three-line stanzas that builds upon itself to create a powerful, thought-provoking experience for readers. The poem is made up of simple language, focusing on the emotions of the speaker and the reader’s relationship to the poem in order to create an emotional connection while also drawing attention to the emotions each reader brings to a poem.
The poem was first published in 1988 in Collins’ poetry collection, The Apple That Astonished Paris. In the introduction to the poem, Collins names it “Introduction to Poetry” in order to signify his intention to use it as an introduction to guide readers through their journey with poetry.

The Poem’s Structure

The poem is written as a sonnet, with each three-line stanza expressing a single idea, ending with the word “stage.” Collins also uses enjambment to link the ideas from one stanza to the next. The poem’s structure is deliberately simple, and there are no complicated metaphors or symbolism. The tone of the poem is contemplative and speaks to the reverence Collins feels for poetry and its potential to provide insight into the human condition. Additionally, the poem often addresses the reader and creates an intimate, personal experience, designed to create an emotional connection with the reader.

Poetic Devices

Collins makes use of several poetic devices within the poem, the most notable being repetition of the word “stage” within the poem to signify the evolution of the reader’s relationship with the poem. Additionally, the poem contains several examples of personification and analogies to illustrate his ideas.
Furthermore, Collins utilizes anaphora to a great extent in “Introduction to Poetry”. Anaphora is a literary device often used to emphasize and create emphasis on certain ideas and phrases by repeating them at the beginning of consecutive lines and stanzas. Anaphoric phrases we can find in the poem are: “hold it up to”, “her bony hand”, and “beat it”.

Meaning and Interpretations of the Poem

At its core, “Introduction to Poetry” is a meditation on the power and magic of poetry. The poem laments how frequently readers try to analyze, interpret, and dissect poems as if they are scientific equations rather than works of art. Collins speaks to the beauty of taking the time to appreciate and immerse oneself in a poem and the unusual perspective of the speaker that it can provide. He invites the reader to connect with the poem on personal level, by listening to the poem, hearing words and allowing feelings to be evoked.
The poem can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the human experience and its enduring mysteries. Collins makes use of the analogy of a person standing before a locked door throughout the poem, suggesting that we can only access certain aspects of our emotions and experiences by taking the time to really listen to what a poem has to say.

The Legacy of ‘Introduction to Poetry’

Since its first publication, “Introduction to Poetry” has been embraced by many poetry lovers and has spread across a variety of platforms. It has become a staple in classrooms, often used as a way to introduce students to the beauty and power of poetry. It has been featured in many anthologies and scholar’s works, and is still being referenced today in popular culture. It is often cited by literary publications as an example of excellence in poetry writing.

How ‘Introduction to Poetry’ Changed Poetry as an Art Form

“Introduction to Poetry” has provided and continues to provide readers with an easily accessible introduction to the wonders of poetry. By utilizing simple and accessible language, Collins creates a familiar and intimate experience for readers, inviting them to engage with and understand poetry on a deeper level. Thus, it has made what was once seen as a complex art form accessible to the general public, and has inspired many people to explore other works of poetry.


Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry” is an iconic poem that has had a lasting impact on the way we interact with poetry and the way we view the art form. By utilizing the most basic of language, Collins has created a powerful and emotive piece that invites readers to consider poetry in a new light, and to take a journey with poetry on their own terms.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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