What is a question everyone should be asking themselves?
Billy Collins: Well what are we doing with our day? What are we doing with our everyday experience? And how to . . . How do you not let time just slip away from you? How do you kind of acquire levels of attention, or levels of concentration that lead to a kind of gratitude? So one of the big things . . . big themes in poetry . . . I think we talked about death. That’s one. But the other theme is gratitude. And it’s all linked to death. It’s like death is the main theme. And then love and all the other stuff come out of the fact of death. But I think the idea of just gratitude for the miracle of your life. I mean that sounds a little corny, but just the notion that you should, you know, get down on your knees and thank God for your eyesight every 20 minutes.
We take this amazing thing for granted. And I think one function poetry has is that poetry is a . . . it balances out a little bit this presumptuousness. We walk around as if we just own the earth. And poetry tends to – at least some poetry – reminds us that . . . that this is . . . this is really the opposite of non-existence, and we are here by some kind of miraculous accident. And that’s . . . that’s the way of quickening the pulse and of seeing colors a little more vividly, and seeing the world around you as having a deeper sense of orchestration.