“Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins
Naturally, life is a continuous cycle of experience and learning. Yet often times so much is buried in our lives that we fail to remember or recall what we have learned. Memories that range from miniscule facts to important emotions can often leave unknowingly from our mind. Billy Collin’s “Forgetfulness” shows how memories are delicate and fragile, and that the process of forgetting is one that is nonchalant. Billy Collins effectively blends subtle humor and irony with a dramatic tone shift to explain that ideas and facts that people think are important flee the mind, showing that nothing good can last. Although he refers to memories in a lighthearted, thoughtful manner, the poem gradually shifts (just as memories fade) to a more serious and solemn tone. Collins does this to advise the reader that memories do have an importance in one’s life, although forgetting them is bound to happen, memories leave the mind and float away, down a “dark mythological river.” “Forgetfulness” though consistently crafty, leaves the reader on a grave note reminding the reader that forgetting is a natural part of life that everyone must go through. As humans age, memories drift “out of a love poem,” and can leave not only one’s conscious mind but can leave an empty feeling in oneself. Collins uses images that one would not expect to use when discussing the degradation of memory. He also uses images that are seemingly unconnected to show the process of memory loss. The thought of memories retiring to a village is comical and clever and this lighthearted tone paints forgetfulness in an optimistic light. Forgetfulness occurs smoothly, a process impeding but not urgent. Each image that Collins represents forms a tranquil scene when he mentions memories such as “long ago you kissed the nine Muses goodbye...” Rather than portraying memory being forgotten as tragedy, Collins almost ridicules people who are on their “way to oblivion.” In this way,...
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