What suggestions for approaching poetry does "Introduction to Poetry" offer? What advice does Billy Collins provide in lines I–II?

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In “Introduction to Poetry,” Billy Collins seems to be saying that to truly experience the meaning of a poem, readers must approach the poem in a sensory way. Rather than try to find meaning by simply gaining an understanding of the words and language, one should feel the meaning of...

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poem by allowing it to awaken sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings that engender memories and emotions. Collins wants readers to enjoy poetry as he does, to truly experience it in a personal way, and to gain a sensory awareness of its meaning.

In lines 1 and 2, Collins tells readers that in order to examine poetry, they should “hold it up to the light.” Symbolically, light represents knowledge and awakening. It represents insight, perception, and understanding. To hold something up to the light also means to scrutinize it closely. Collins conveys the idea that he considers a poem to be a work of art. Therefore, he wants readers to do more than read a poem for its surface meaning—he wants them to probe beyond the surface to discover universal truths. Collins seems to be saying that poetry has the power to touch a person’s soul. In “Introduction to Poetry,” he gives readers advice for approaching poetry in a way that will help them feel that power and appreciate the artistic creation in a personal and emotional way.

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