Analysis Of Billy Dickinson's Clothes

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Upon first look, Billy Collins “Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes” seems to be a wild fantasy for Emily Dickinson that he is entertaining. Upon closer examination, however, the poem reveals his subconscious desire to have sex with his mother and his frustration about his inability to do so, resulting in the displacement of his sexual desires onto Dickinson. From the beginning, Collins is very detailed with his description. In fact he is quite anal retentive in explaining everything about the encounter. He starts from her outside clothing, “first, her tippet made of tulle” (1) and on through her mass of clothing until finally reaching her “corset” (41). Collins proclaims that the tippet is “easily lifted off her shoulders” (2), which lets people know that he is doing the work. Dickinson is simply standing there allowing him to touch and undress her. Perhaps this reflects that Collins is not often in control and never in control when it concerns his mother. He is probably constantly being told what to do, so it is very important that the reader realizes that he is in control of this situation. This may be why he projects Dickinson as immobile; he is simply projecting his inability to be in control onto Dickson. Collins then turns towards her “bonnet, the bow undone with a light forward pull” (4-5). The way he pulls the bonnet with a “light” (5) pulls shows how he feels it necessary to go about this situation very carefully and gently. He is using Dickinson to hide his
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