Old Age and Cheerios

Topics: Old age, Gerontology, Newspaper Pages: 3 (712 words) Published: December 18, 2012
Teddy Tran
English 110AI
October 18, 2012

Tran 1
Teddy Tran
Professor Westfall
English 110AI
October 18, 2012
Explication: “Cheerios”
The central message in Billy Collin’s poem “Cheerios” is that with old age come more wisdom, but how Americans always over look what has already been established for the newest attraction. He uses Cheerios and himself to show how capitalism has taken over Americans. The poem starts off by setting us right in chilly Chicago on a bright morning. Chicago is the 3rd most populous city in the United States. He then goes on in his first stanza, “I opened the Tribune only to discover / that I was the same age as Cheerios” (Collins 3-4). The Tribune is a major daily newspaper, which is based in Chicago. The Tribune is currently the eighth largest newspaper in the United States circulation. Cheerios have only been around since the ‘40s and the newspaper was celebrating only it’s seventieth birthday. Collins directly compares his birthday to that of Cheerios, “was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios / whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year” (7-8). We see from here that Billy Collins is not that much older than Cheerios. But in America we count and publicize every single age greatly. Everybody is trying to get younger and less people learning how to embrace age. “Already I could hear them whispering / behind my stooped and threadbare back,” (9-10). This is where Collins establishes his age and really emphasizes how Tran 2

others see him in age off his appearance alone. A stooped back comes naturally to everybody with age. We can’t keep a straight erect posture for life. The stooped appearance also gives us the impression of a lack of confidence. Threadbare just reinforces how shabby in appearance Collins is in. He might also be referring to a threadbare t-shirt, which is a t-shirt becoming thin and tattered with age as well. Collins next lines go on to say, “Why that dude’s older than Cheerios / the way they...

Cited: Collins, Billy. “Cheerios.” Poetry Magazine. Chicago: Bernard Williams, 2012. Cheerios by Billy Collins : Poetry Magazine. 2012. 18 October 2012
< http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/244438>.
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