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Question About Angels By Billy Collins Analysis

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There are fundamental questions that are posed in everyone’s life. The most asked, as well as the most daunting one is perhaps what happens when we die, and what is heaven like? Billy Collins in his poem “Question About Angels”, attempts to pose and answer such questions. As the poem is a statement on the outlook of how religion in interpreted, and how angels are perceived through the use of repetition, symbolism, and irony. Billy Collins attempts to show the reader a sense of mystery and unfamiliarity that leads to chaos when he is trying to describe how angels are perceived. His repeated use of the same language adds an effect of urgency, almost as if it is a sudden realization that has befallen on him. This can be seen in the text directly…show more content…
The questions about angels that Billy Collins uses in his writing, is a reflection of uncertainty that he himself has on religion. This can be seen in several instances, however two that a reader often might glance over is when Billy Collins writes, “ Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors”, and “ Do they swing like children from hinges” (3). Starting off with the first question he poses a reader might think the Billy Collins is referring to the flowers changing color in heaven. However if one takes a deeper look into the poem, we can see that he 's actually referring to the skin tone of the angels themselves. Posing numerous other questions, such as “what race are angels?”, and “what does this mean about our current representation of heaven”. This small question symbolizes a veil being lifted off the reader, as suddenly images of religious figures might be pictured in their head, most of them being shown as Caucasian individuals. The color white has been used to symbolize purity and goodness for years, however Billy Collins is questioning whether or not that symbolism carries over to angels as well. The reader can see that he is questioning angels very nature, through the use of symbolism, in his second question. As the question “ Do they swing like children from hinges” symbolizes…show more content…
The use of irony is present in the idea that what the church has taught Billy Collins is truly irrelevant in how he perceives religion, and how their strong hold no longer affects him. For example, the poem states in its very first sentence, “ the only one you ever hear is how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. ” (1). This symbolises the strong control the church has over the questions that are posed about religion. There are also phrases such as “No curiosity”, and “ Throne chanting in Latin.”, which is meant to show that the church is killing individual 's curiosity about expanding their own knowledge in religion, in order to be dependent on the church for their interpretation of religion, and worshiping. It becomes clear how the Billy Collins emotionally feels about this control when he states, “ medieval theologians control the court.”, and “it is designed” (7)(8). Billy Collins is showing through the use of irony on how the church in being so structure and not allowing for individual thought, is truly barbaric in nature. Finally we can see another example of irony at the very end of stanza eight and nine. In which Billy Collins writes, “ the answer is simply one: one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet, a small jazz combo working in the background.”, and “now it is very late” (8) (9). The
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