Billy Collins

Billy Collins Poems

Billy Collins is an American poet who served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He has often been referred to as the “most popular poet in America.” His poems are famously witty and often include surprising twists and turns. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2016. Read more about Billy Collins.

The History Teacher

by Billy Collins

In ‘The History Teacher,’ the titular educator neglects to teach his students about the cold, hard realities of the past in order to protect their innocence from reality.

Trying to protect his students' innocence

he told them the Ice Age was really just

the Chilly Age, a period of a million years

when everyone had to wear sweaters.

My Number

by Billy Collins

‘My Number’ by Billy Collins takes a jocular approach to wrangling with the existential anxieties brought on when thinking about death.

This is a poem from Billy Collins that displays all his wit and profundity in one. It balances with humor and irony an intimate introspection about death, one that both makes light of this very universal fear by poking fun at humanity's terror over such an inevitable part of life. Collins' use of personification renders the figure of death into something dually foreboding and oddly personable.

Is Death miles away from this house,

reaching for a widow in Cincinnati

or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker

in British Columbia?

Afternoon with Irish Cows

by Billy Collins

‘Afternoon with Irish Cows’ describes one speaker’s presumptions about the interior lives of cows and the power that sound has over human understanding.

American Sonnet

by Billy Collins

‘American Sonnet’ by Billy Collins is a seven stanza poem that is divided into sets of three lines, known as


by Billy Collins

In ‘Aristotle’ Collins explores the three major themes of beginnings, middles, and ends. These are represented by the different sections


by Billy Collins

In ‘Dharma’ Collins touches on themes of freedom, the purpose of life, and animal/human relationships. These themes come together as

Introduction to Poetry

by Billy Collins

‘Introduction to Poetry’ by Billy Collins is a beautiful poem that speaks about the nature of poetry. The poet considers how poetry should be appreciated and comprehended.

Man Listening to Disc

by Billy Collins

‘Man Listening to Disc’ is a poem written by “the most popular poet in America”, Billy Collins. This poem presents the poet’s feelings while listening to jazz music.

On Turning Ten

by Billy Collins

Here is an analysis of a poem by American poet Billy Collins called ‘On Turning Ten’. This is a coming-of-age

The Afterlife

by Billy Collins

‘The Afterlife’ by Billy Collins is a ten stanza poem that is separated into uneven sets of lines. The longest

The Breather

by Billy Collins

‘The Breather’ by Billy Collins is a six stanza poem that is separated out into sets of three lines, known

The Dead

by Billy Collins

‘The Dead’ eliminates the gap between the living and the poor. It draws our attention to the fact that the dead are always watching us and waiting for our arrival.

The Revenant

by Billy Collins

In the poem, ‘The Revenant’, Billy Collins channels the spirit of a deceased dog and subverts the accepted relationship of man and his best friend.


by Billy Collins

William James Collins, the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003, is a contemporary American poet. He

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