Billy Collins

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What is the theme of "No Time" by Billy Collins, and how does the author get this theme across?

One theme in Billy Collins's "No Time" is that people focus on the wrong things in life and time passes quickly, showing the importance of paying attention to the right things. Collins uses setting and diction throughout the pom to effectively communicate this theme.

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Billy Collins's "No Time" is a poem that describes the speaker hurrying on a weekday morning to get to an unspecified location. While driving, he or she passes the cemetery in which the speaker's parents are buried. Rather than pause or stop, the speaker continues on while imagining that the father disapproves and sits up while the mother tells the father to lie back down in his grave.

Ultimately, this eight-line poem points to the theme of precious time in life passing too quickly as people waste it uselessly. The setting of a cemetery speaks to the idea of life itself being transient. Yet, rather than directly dealing with the truth of the ephemeral nature of life, the speaker chooses to ignore a precious moment with his or her parents in favor of another errand in the first stanza. Primarily, Collins utilizes diction in a way that captures the theme clearly. The words "rush," "tap the horn," and "speed past" communicate a sense of hurry in the speaker's life. However, that hurry becomes a waste because the speaker then reveals in line five that he or she spends the rest of the day thinking about his or her parents. The speaker states, "Then, all day, I think of him rising up." So, Collins effectively creates a sense of regret on the part of the speaker and calls readers to examine how they use their own time.

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