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Analysis of Litany by Billy Collins

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How does one define a perfect match? Society defines two equally attractive individuals as perfectly matched, and that a woman’s beauty defines her attractiveness. In “Litany,” Collin’s speaker presents and describes a true, unconditional and unequally relationship as a picture-perfect puzzle. The speaker names characteristics and attributes that his lover lacks while also listing others attributes in as backhanded manner. While using “you” the speaker portrays and addresses his lover with unusual comparisons and with ordinarily undesirable. He describes himself more attractively and the fact that despite his superior characteristics, he still needs and loves her. Many of his comments are backhanded with double meanings. “Litany” much like Shakespeare’s, “My Mistress’s Eyes Are Nothing Like Sun,” mocks the perfection and romantic idealism of love. Through metaphors, an effective use of syntax, structure, and contrast, Collins effectively conveys humorous satire towards traditional love poems while describing a view of a perfect match.

Essentially, the entire poem is stream of metaphors. These metaphors conjure various images that describe the speaker or his lover through contrast. However, Collins’ illustrates the loves the lover’s essence and attributes with odd comparisons. For instance, he starts the fourth stanza with “and a quick look in the mirror with show/ that you are neither the boots in the corner” (lines16-17). Traditionally, poet would grandiose on a woman’s beauty or the traits that are attractive. Instead, the speaker denies that her appearance is neither rough nor is her face forgetful by stating that she is not like “boots in the corner.” The metaphorical comparison is succinct. Collins omits the typical infatua...

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...alistic romance place the speaker and his love in their own realistic fit. Although he can list the lover’s shortfalls, he able to show that he lacks her good traits. Despite that fact that he is stellar, he needs her to complete himself and to shine. Collin’s paints the image of man without much stability who is perfectly matched with woman who, ignoring other standards, completes and compliments him. Moreover, Collins manages to describe from some angles a romance in the absence of a rhyming scheme. In its place, Collins entertains he reader with a comical, light-hearted, puzzle. The speaker goes against society’s generalization. His lover isn’t describe as great beauty or on par with him, yet he loves for who and what she is.

Works Cited

"Litany." Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Web. 17 Sept. 2011. .
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