Picnic Lightning By Billy Collins Analysis

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Billy Collins, former United States poet laureate, penned many famous poems, including “Nostalgia,” “Japan,” and “Picnic, Lightning.” His poem “Picnic Lightning” is a five-stanza piece centering on the idea of “chance.” Collins chooses to begin his poem with a quote from Vladmir Nabokov’s Lolita. Collins’ style of writing lacks many traditional poetic devices such as a structured meter, but Collins uses other devices to deliver his central purpose. In “Picnic, Lightning,” Collins creates a central purpose that the whimsicality and wonder of life should be appreciated, and even though death presents itself as imminent and certain, it also is fantastic. The first two stanzas of “Picnic, Lightning” begin the poem and introduce the reader to the improbable, yet certain spectacle that is death. The poem begins with a quote, which includes the title of the poem. This quote includes the speaker of Lolita describing how his mother passed away in a “freak accident” involving “lightning” at a “picnic.” This short quote immediately reveals a few things to the reader. The poem illuminates the tone of the poem as ironic, understating a momentous and astonishing scene. After the quote, Collins officially begins his poem with the words “It is possible.” …show more content…
Collins inserts a different poetic device in the transition to the final stanza. Without even starting a new sentence, the poem shifts back into reality, describing the sound of the shovel, the auditory imagery reverberating. Although the “small plants [sing]/with lifted faces,” Reality takes definite control of the poems finale. The final line of “Picnic, Lightning” culminates with, “as one hour sweeps into the next.” Yes, the gardening man is capable of dreaming of absurd situations, but the certainty of the “click/ of the sundial” cannot be halted. Despite this, the poem ends with an arguably hopeful tone, adding more contrast from the initial quote about

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