In a heated discussion of the Common Core's recommendation of "close reading," i.e., reading and analyzing what is on the page without reference to context or background knowledge, a reader who signs as Danielle sent this comment:

 

U.S. Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, writes about the over analysis of poetry in the poem below. Clearly David Coleman knows not what he is doing. He wants American students to beat literature, books and poetry with a hose to find out what it really means, which is exactly what the writers do not want.

 

 

 

Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

 

 

or press an ear against its hive.

 

 

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

 

 

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

 

 

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

 

 

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

 

 

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.