A Treasure Map

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A poem is like a treasure map. It holds the key to a journey and the resulting treasure to be found. With every treasure map there is, of course, the treasure, but there is also a series of directions, twists and turns that must be straightened out in order to reach the desired destination. Rushing through the process of learning the path may still lead to the treasure, but there may be significant loss along the way. Just like a treasure map, a poem can lead to so much more than just words on a page. Dissecting a poem can lead to hidden meanings and a sense of emotion that may not have been able to be reached by merely reading mindlessly. One way to reach these hidden meanings is by examining the use of irony and paradox in poetry. Billy Collins, an American poet, leads his readers through his treasure map of poetry with these devices. Understanding irony and paradox in poetry can help readers gain a new insight into not only the face value of poetry, but a deeper meaning as well. Poetry requires a reader to look below the surface of the words presented by the author. Paradox is essential to the structure and being of a poem when it is used. It is a statement that appears impossible at first, but actually makes sense. The value of paradox is its shock value. The impossibility of the paradox startles the reader and underscores the truth of what is being said. The use of paradox emphasizes the indeterminate lines between form and content. Paradox attracts the reader's or the listener's attention and gives emphasis. Paradox is inclusive of irony and this existence of opposites or contraries is part of poetry. The bringing together of these opposites is important to the meaning of the poem. Many paradoxes prove to ... ... middle of paper ... .... Billy Collins employs a lot of irony and paradox in his poetry. The reader, therefore, must pay close attention to what is being said and what the words actually mean. Poetry involves deep thinking in more than just word analysis. It plays on the emotions of its readers and requires, especially with Collins’ poetry, deeper thought and alternate possibilities to reach the true meaning of a poem. Poetry entails more than what is presented at face value and it can take readers on a journey before they arrive at the destination the poet wants the readers to reach. After all, half of the treasure is successfully using the map to get there. Works Cited Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense. Thomas Arp and Greg Johnson, Ed. 11th edition. Boston: Wadsworth, 2011. Collins, Billy. Sailing Alone Around the Room. New York: Random House Trade Inc., 2001.

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