The History Teacher Billy Collins Analysis

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In most poems, the tone often represents the underlying meaning of the selection. Billy Collins goes against those standards and uses comedy while also having serious undertones. Hailing from New York City, Billy Collins grew up in a middle-class family. His background is often evident in his writing, making him one of the most popular poets in America. He served as United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003 and New York State Poet Laureate from 2004-2006, one of the most prestigious positions as a poet. He has taught at numerous universities in the United States. His writing is often understandable to the general public, increasing his audience. In both “The Afterlife” and “The History Teacher” by Billy Collins, the poet uses simple topics,…show more content…
He tends to abruptly change his thought and tone, surprising the reader and drawing the individual in. Collins quickly shifts to a serious tone of regret when he states “They wish they could wake in the morning like you/and stand at the window examining the winter trees” (“The Afterlife” 35-36). His stark transition to a grave tone makes his point of his beliefs on life after death more poignant and makes it more understandable to the general public. The stanza makes the moral of the poem evident that “If one has no hope of eternal reward and no fear of damnation, regret and whimsical musing are fitting and proper attitudes” (Pool). Collins’s tone in both of his poems helps to get his moral across and display the underlying meaning of the poems. His use of tone is also applicable in “The History Teacher” when he states “The children would leave his classroom/for the playground to torment the weak” (13-14). He uses tone to state that the teacher’s attempt to protect the students’ innocence is unsuccessful because they continue to bully their peers and will learn to hate others. His quick transition makes his overall meaning more evident and
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