Poem “Schoolsville” by Billy Collins essay

The first thoughts after reading of Collinns’s “Schoolsville”, in general, were about a teacher who slowly lost his mind because he became older and weaker from day to day. But after reading the first few verses we can see that the person in the poem is simply reminiscing. However, if to read this poem to the end, the story becomes quite clear.

These verses illustrate that the person in this composition has created his own small world, full of events in his head. The last strophe in the poem shows personal proves of the person’s delusion, making us imagine how the outside big world views him.

An old student visited that teacher to talk to him and check how his life was going, to show him his old work, then someone else outside their window watched at him. And this teacher waits for guests or some visitors every day. He is lonely and feels sad of it. He is old and everything around him is old too, may be he is driving a little bit crazy because of this situation.

The author describes the teacher like some king of a machine. This old man has no real job, but keeps reading lectures to the air or telling his stories to himself. He cannot remember names of his students, and just some pictures of the past appear in his head.

Collins applies a humorous tone to his teaching and to the students, and this is made in several different ways. Well, first of all, the scene that he describes is absolutely and totally absurd. He places the students in a huge variety of different stereotypical situations that are based on overstated versions of their life in a high school. As example, Bill showed a boy with a hand which is always raised up or the girl who signed her works and papers with lipstick. But we understand that the girl did not sign papers in a lipstick indeed, therefore, we were concerned with her appearance in this way, that it seemed like it. The author used hyperbole in this poem to describe and send to reader all the inner world of the teacher, to make the “Schoolsville” brighter and alluring.

Collin’s poem was written quizzical and satirical. Probably, it does not reflect a consistent view of the author’s teaching profession. Perhaps, it was a dark moment of his life or some problems happened at that time, and it seems captured him. That is why the poet used his humorous typical style to look back in old times when he was a teacher.


            Coexistence of a set of poetic styles attracts attention. One of styles is inherent to the regions in a whole; others contact the known poetic schools or names of the well-known poets. According to the Best American Poetry, the modern American poetry differs with decentralization, the richest variety and it is not reduced to several comprehensive formulas. Therefore, at least for convenience of the description, it is possible to present in the form of a range, having allocated three partially being crossed directions: on one pole ”“ traditionalists, in the center ”“ loner poets, whose voice is especially individual, and poets experimenters are on the other pole.

Poets-traditionalists keep continuity of poetic tradition or aspire to inhale in it new life. Loner poets use both traditional and innovative technicians, achieving originality of a poetic voice. Poets-experimenters exact new cultural styles.

Comparing the two authors of poetic lines of their great works, Roethke refers to the representatives of traditionalism, and Collins, most likely, experimenter. But one thing they both have is that they describe the objects and the environment not trivial, and in particular inspired and original. It is certain simplicity in their poetry, which is the key to being genius and it attracts the reader.


Leave a Reply