What are the various meanings of these words from "The Collar," and how does each meaning work? The poem depends heavily on the ambiguity of certain words, including "lines" (line 4) and "suit" (lines 6, 31).

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Lines" is connected to the ropes and cable imagery used throughout the poem.  In line 4, the speaker claims that his "lines and life" are free. In this instance, it seems that he means that he is note tied to anything;  nothing has control of him.  Even the "lines" he now utters are free and unrestrained.  The "suit" in line 6 most probably refers to the priest's collar or to a subservient role of one who seeks to please, as "in suit."  The second time the word is used, it seems to be a more modern use of the word such as to be fitting or to satisfy, for in this line the speaker denounces those who do not suit their needs.  But perhaps the speaker is also punning in both instance on "pursuit."  The speaker seeks to free himself from the "pursuit" of his religious responsibilities.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team