The composition of this poem is stunning. This being a conversational poem, an effect achieved with great skill through the punctuation and line breaks. The break after ‘slide’ ends the first stanza but leads directly on to the single line making up the second stanza. This gives the reader another example of a sensual reaction, like a second thought, ending with a full stop. Other examples are found in the third and fourth two-line stanzas, each having a separate thought. This fifth stanza is another stand-alone thought, ending with a full stop. The mood then changes for the last two stanzas, each of which is completed with a full stop, breaking the flow of the poem in a way that mirrors the images of brutality. The final couplet rounds the poem off with a sort of despairing finality.
The main theme of this poem brought out is that poetry is something to be experienced. Often, readers go through the poem once figures out the underlying meaning after one trial. However, this is not true in the author’s eyes which are written from the poet’s point of view, as shown in inline 1. The I is referring to Collins and they are referring to his students.
There is a heavy use of metaphor that brings a comparison in the poem and imagery which usually has hidden meaning. In the first stanza, “poem” is compared to “a color slide”. This creates strong imagery that readers have to squint their eyes in order to look at the slide clearly under the light or by using the projector. In the same token, meanings can only be revealed over multiple readings and time, with careful interpretation. In the second stanza, “poem” is compared to “a hive”, it might be difficult to fully understand a poem, but one can succeed despite the difficulties, similar to risking one’s safety to have physical contact with dangerous beehives. In the third and fourth stanza, Collins compares “poem” to “amaze” and “a room in a house”, it reveals the feelings of loss, frustration, and uncertainty. People are usually afraid of insecurity when facing the unfamiliarity and odds, but these are all parts of the learning process that cannot be avoided. Eventually, there is a turning point where readers find excitement and inspiration in interpreting poetry as portrayed in the fifth stanza, where “poem” is compared to “a lake” and readers are waterskiing and having fun with the poem.
There are the administration and usage of sharp contrast. This is shown in the last two stanzas provide a sharp contrast to the previous stanzas, in terms of tone and imagery. The poet is not expecting students to adopt a negative kind of manner towards poetry, as demonstrated when Collins personifies “poem” as “a prisoner”, being tied to a chair and tortured with a hose. It adds a mocking, yet humorous tone to the whole poem, jeering at the incorrect attitudes of students towards poetry, hoping to alert the readers at the same time.
The choice of words gives vivid imagery for the readers, aiding readers’ interpretations of the poem. The image of a prisoner being beaten casts a threat on the readers’ minds, but it also indicates a time for reflection. And the comparisons he provides correspond to the title of the poem well, as Collins is trying to remind and teach the readers that they should be patient and observant when reading a poem.
There is a usage of concrete language imagery. The word ‘hive’s, in this case, shows that the poem is full of something you can hear buzzing if only you listen. Ordinarily, the hive has full honey that brings delight especially when tasted.
In conclusion, the author enlightens his readers with a vital message of getting inside the poem to experience. This is done instead of figuring out the meaning through skimming it. Indeed of judging a book by its cover. It is not wise to judge a person by his look and stereotype him due to our own biases. Instead, one should contribute more time and effort to observe carefully before judging someone. Moreover, it also applies to the secondary school’s education system that students only learn through repeatedly memorizing by heart, without thorough understanding. In fact, this poem sheds some light on how we see things; thus, interpret things, introducing the importance of experience.