Poetry In Motion – Subway by Billy Collins

Subway by Billy Collins

The poem Subway was written by Billy Collins in 1941. My initial reaction to this poem was ‘wow, he’s right. I never thought about that’. So often we neglect to appreciate the hard work that goes into creating things we rely so deeply on, in this case, the subway tunnels. This poem is specifically about those who made the tunnels, but is relative to so many things in life. How often do we think about or appreciate those who do the “dirty work”? Occupations like sanitation, construction, civil architects and engineers. We rely on and use their finished products in our everyday lives but how often do we stop and think about the hard work they put in? I know that prior to reading this poem, I gave them little to no thought at all. The speaker of the poem is unknown. The subject is the focus of the poem, the subject being those who worked so hard to create the tunnels. The poem is presented in white letters with a purple background. In the bottom right corner there is an illustration of what to me seems like a pile of pieces of paper, similar to confetti, beginning to disperse. The illustration makes me think of the way litter flies when a train is entering or leaving a station. I believe this poem explores consideration, or lack thereof, appreciation and thoughtfulness.

One thought on “Poetry In Motion – Subway by Billy Collins

  1. Karelyn Torres

    I agree with your initial reaction to this poem. I myself often do not take into consideration other people’s hard work. This poem is a really good choice to put in the subway because as Collins states we usually are lost in the music or the books to actually appreciate this tunnel that was built to make it easier for us to travel. However, I disagree with your interpretation of the subject of this poem. I believe that it’s about how inconsiderate we are because we are constantly complaining about the MTA when in reality we are lucky to have it. Overall, i love how you broke down your ideas about this poem.


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