Bill Colin "Sonnet"

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Allusions in Bill Collins’ “Sonnet”
By definition, an allusion is a reference, within a literary work, to another work of fiction, a film, a piece of art or even a real event and it serves as a kind of shorthand, drawing on this outside work to provide greater context or meaning to the situation being written about (Wiehardt). In poetry, allusion is a must device for it standard form. If using allusions is great, smart and economical ways for the author to communicate with the reader with least use of words, it sometime is confusing for the reader. Allusions require the readers to be aware, to be familiar and to know them in order to understand the poems correctly. The poem “Sonnet” of Billy Collins is a perfect example for using this type of device in poetry. Billy Collins used a lot of allusions in this particular work. Therefore, just by reading through it, the poem seems to make no sense and its theme is very difficult to grasp. However, by taking time and carefully studying all the allusions, one can see that the hidden theme behind this poem is simply a clever satirical comment on sonnets. In “Sonnet”, Collins utilizes allusion at the very beginning of the poem. He started the first line with “All we need is fourteen lines” (Collins 1). Although this seems like a very simple sentence, the “fourteen lines” here is actually an allusion to the structure of the sonnet, which is traditionally consists of fourteen lines (Booth and Mays, 832-833). In line three, Collins then goes on and talks about “a little ship on love storm-tossed seas” (Collins 3). The “love storm-tossed seas” here again is an allusion, referencing to the typical love themes of sonnets. With these two allusions, Collins introduces the theme of the poem, which is about sonnets and its form. In the fifth line, Collins mentions the term “Elizabethan” (Collins 5). Elizabethan refers to the Elizabethan era, which started in the late fifth-teen century and continued on into the early sixth-teen...
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