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Second Draft

Second Draft

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Published by: ryanh0303 on May 06, 2010
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Henry 1Ryan HenryMr. DamasoHonors English 2, Period 64 May 2010Second Draft³Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us whilewe live.´By Norman CousinsDeath, as bitter and dismal as it is, always occurs. From the second all living beings are born, it is time to start counting the remaining days to live. On September 11,
 
2001, 2,819 peopleunexpectedly had their life taken right before their eyes. Death is a common style on which art isformed thus making us wonder, why is it such a pertinent topic? The most logical explanation isthat everyone dies at some point. Throughout the art world, death takes a major role in the production of many pieces.Billy Collins has an open mind in all his poetry, but due to the conditions he wrote in, alot of his works deal with death. Billy Collins wrote from the late 20
th
century up until this veryday. Collins takes what is usually a serious topic such as death or religion, and adds a variety of words to make it humorous and easier to retain in your mind (³The Afterlife´ 38).
 
Since Collinswrote at the end of the Gulf War and a little after September 11
th
he got the full affect of writingin a post war era. In ³The Afterlife,´ ³Picnic, Lightning,´ and ³Tomes´ the idea of death is present but vague. While vividly portraying tragic situations, Billy Collins uses diction andhumor to describe matters associated with death.
 
Henry 2Billy Collins has grown up and written his poetry during a significant time in our country.Billy Collins was born in New York City on March 22, 1941 to an electrician, William Collins,and a nurse, Katherine Collins (Alleva, par.1). Collins is a distinguished English Professor atLehman College of the City University of New York, where he has taught for the past thirtyyears (Collins and Cavalieri, par. 34). Billy Collins attended Archbishop Stepinac High School in New York, and received his bachelor¶s degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1963.Collins later attended the University of California, Riverside where he received his M.A. andPh.D in English (Billy Collins, par. 2). His education allowed him to be the distinguished poet heis today.Billy Collins is known for his rather serious writings dealing with death, and other topicssuch as religion, and adding humor and word choice to make the piece more entertaining. Collinshas many different styles of writings that are all different. Some of his poems are about deathwhile others he just picked up a pen and wrote about what he noticed. He became successfulthrough his works before he was poet laureate, and after he gained popularity he was named³America¶s favorite poet´ by Bruce Weber, a writer for the New York Times (Billy Collins, Par.1). Billy Collins has a vast amount of humor in his poems, but at the same time he is verydetailed in his word choice and he makes sad topics such as death more humorous. Collins tendsto focus on the themes of religion and the meaning of life and death (³The Afterlife´ 42). For themost part Billy Collins just writes straight from his mind and doesn¶t really write aboutexperiences he has had, except for in a few cases. One minor influence on his poetry was thedeath of his mom. This tied in fairly easily since many of his other poems discuss death as well.The time period in which Billy Collins wrote definitely changes the style and meaning of his poetry.Collins first started writing poetry in 1991 just as US troops were sent to destroy
 
Henry 3Iraq¶s army in Kuwait in the Gulf War (³The Afterlife´ 43). Later on Collins was Poet Laureateduring September 11, 2001, so he truly did get the full effects of writing poetry for the USA in atime of war. The media was capturing families of victims on the side of the road begging for assistance. These wars didn¶t just affect the victims and the government; they affected everyUnited States citizen. Billy Collins noticed these affects on his country, and as poet laureate hewrote about them (³The Names,´ par. 5-6). Through the tragic times of war, Billy Collins¶s poetry was born.As stated earlier, Billy Collins uses diction and other techniques to vaguely portray deathor something nearly related. Through the use of descriptive words Billy Collins describes a sceneof death in many of his poems. Due to his time writing post Gulf War and during September 11
th
,Collins wrote some morbid yet humorous and descriptive poems.The three poems by Billy Collins that are all similarly related are: ³The Afterlife´(Appendix A), ³Picnic, Lightning´ (Appendix B), and ³Tomes´ (Appendix C). All of these poems have to do with death or something nearly related. ³The Afterlife´ is an account of whatall religions may think comes after their death. ³Picnic, Lightning´ is basically just a detailedaccount of how death is so un-expecting and may occur at any moment. And lastly, ³Tomes´ istalking about the death of his mom. The men who were critiquing Collins¶s poems are thefollowing; Writer for University of Pittsburgh Press, Jason Gray, instructor of literature, ChrisSemansky, poet and teacher of AP senior English, Frank Pool, and scholar, Richard Alleva.³The Afterlife´ is an in depth account of what each religion sees in the afterlife, and useshumor and diction while talking about matters associated with death.Essentially, there are twoapproaches to death, the tragic and the humorous. Since Collins is a funny guy, this poem ischaracterized by a lighter expression and somewhat comedic as well. (Pool, par. 3). Poet Wallace

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