“How Poetry Comes to Me” and “Introduction to Poetry”


“How Poetry Comes to Me” by Gary Snyder

How Poetry Comes to Me
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
“Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to water-ski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

  1. Read “How Poetry Comes to Me” and compare it to “Introduction to Poetry” in terms of the figurative language used. (50 words)
  1. Why do you suppose they choose the types of figurative language that they do? (50 words)
  1. Describe how Snyder treats poetry compared with Collins.(200 words)

Read this poem

While most of us copied letters out of books,
Mrs. Lawrence carved and cleaned her nails.
Now the red and buff cardinals at my back-room window
make me miss her, her room, her hallway,
even the chimney outside
that broke up the sky.
In my memory it is afternoon.
Sun streams in through the door
next to the fire escape where we are lined up
getting our coats on to go out to the playground,
the tether ball, its towering height, the swings.
She tells me to make sure the line
does not move up over the threshold.
That would be dangerous.
So I stand guard at the door.
Somehow it happens
the way things seem to happen when we’re not really looking,
or we are looking, just not the right way.
Kids crush up like cattle, pushing me over the line.
Judy is not a good leader is all Mrs. Lawrence says.
She says it quietly. Still, everybody hears.
Her arms hang down like sausages.
I hear her every time I fail.

  • Describe the situation of the poem, the tone, and how the figures of speech used contribute to the poem’s meaning. TIP: Consider what time period in US history that knitting mills functioned and why they might have a schoolroom on the premises. (200 words)
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