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Billy Collins - The Art Of Drowning

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away
in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.

How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?
Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?
Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash?
Your whole existence going off in your face
in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography-
nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.

Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance
here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish,

a quick blur of curved silver darting away,
having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all
as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,
leaving behind what you have already forgotten,
the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds.

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 19605 times | Comments and analysis of The Art Of Drowning by Billy Collins Comments (6)

The Art Of Drowning - Comments and Information

Poet: Billy Collins
Poem: The Art Of Drowning
Poem of the Day: Apr 4 2005

Comment 6 of 6, added on November 11th, 2009 at 12:35 AM.

If this site is to be taken seriously, it would be a good idea to have some moderation. This doesn't mean censure of negative comments if they are of intellectual merit and presented respectively. Removal of moronic rants from foul mouthed imbeciles, (Bertie) is an appropriate response. People that are unable to understand higher thinking can say they don't understand a poem or prose.....don't like it and why, but spewing garbage just underlines their ignorance.

Deborah from Canada
Comment 5 of 6, added on May 26th, 2009 at 2:52 AM.

Now let's not be childish. While it's true that Bertie isn't being fair to the poem, we must also remember that since he/she can't spell or use correct articles or even type, we probably shouldn't take him/her seriously.

I love this poem. It's so straightforward and truthful. I know Collins doesn't like overanalyzing poetry, but I think this is in some way about the absence of God: instead of the sort of holy flash we've been promised, we get the cold reality of a fish. Sounds like Ingmar Bergman.

Q from United States
Comment 4 of 6, added on November 13th, 2008 at 9:18 PM.

hahaha oh Bertie you really crack me up. It`s funny how the internet always seems to have it`s endless supply of moronic half wits who consider themselves intellectuals and critiques yet themselves know nothing . This poem is actually composed quite well and would take more than the average poet to conceive. Now to more entertaining matters i shall edit your work into my own personal ``masterpiece``

Hello. Bertie`s comment is the biggest load of crap I have ever seen. I noticed that a single-celled amoeba who has yet to evolve past the basic stages of
life could write better comments than this with their non-existant feet,unlike a hillbilly who actually has a pair. You have all the talent of a inbred llama who has had his face blown off with a heated aerosol can and
paints with his excrement.

i can write better comments while I strain to remove the fecal matter from my bedpost after i made love to your mothers ass with it, and with a loofa. You will die soon as i will smite you, you stupid inbred. fu ck you in your stupid ass!!!

that is all thank you ; D

lolingINcanada from Canada

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