“Every time we get a big gale around here
some people just refuse to batten down.”

we estimate that

ice skating into a sixty
mile an hour wind, fully exerting
the legs and swinging arms

you will be pushed backward
an inch every twenty minutes.

in a few days, depending on
the size of the lake,
the backs of your skates
will touch land.

you will then fall on your ass
and be blown into the forest.

if you gather enough speed
by flapping your arms
and keeping your skates pointed

you will catch up to other
flying people who refused to batten down.
you will exchange knowing waves
as you ride the great wind north.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Billy Collins's poem For Bartleby The Scrivener


  1. art chapman says:

    Billy Collins is my silent mentor in the art and craft of poetry. He has no imitators, but I’m trying hard! This poem takes an ordinary experience, that is expressed in hyperbole, and turns it into a work of art. It is not about the wind, but the suceptibility of humans to succumb to the obvious, as if it were some kind of mystery! And they do it en mass!

  2. joe says:

    Yet another display of brilliance from Billy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Billy Collins better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.