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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

NOSTALGIA, by         Recitation by Author     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Nostalgia" is a poem by Billy Collins, first published in his 2002 collection "Nine Horses." Collins is a contemporary American poet, born in 1941 in New York. He has served as the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the National Poetry Series and the Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry.


"Nostalgia" is a poem that explores the theme of nostalgia, the longing for the past. The speaker of the poem reflects on a time in the past when he used to sit in his grandfather's study and listen to the older man talk about his experiences. The speaker laments the fact that he did not appreciate these moments as much as he should have at the time. The poem ends with the speaker acknowledging that the past cannot be recaptured and that he must accept the present.

 Poetic Elements:

  • Structure: The poem consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme of the poem is AABB, with the last word of the second and fourth lines rhyming.
  • Imagery: The poem makes use of vivid imagery, such as the "black-and-white photograph" of the grandfather and the "red winged bird" that flies by the window.
  • Repetition: The phrase "I remember" is repeated throughout the poem, emphasizing the theme of nostalgia and the speaker's longing for the past.


In "Nostalgia," Billy Collins presents a poignant reflection on the fleeting nature of time and the human longing for the past. The speaker's memories of his grandfather's study serve as a powerful reminder that moments of connection and meaning can easily pass us by. Through the use of vivid imagery and repetition, Collins evokes a sense of wistfulness and regret that is ultimately resolved by the speaker's acceptance of the present moment. As the poem concludes, we are left with a sense of both the beauty and the sadness of human experience

Poem Snippet:

"And I can only wonder

what it would sound like

if I could play it back

down through the years."

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