Breathless Explication Essay

935 WordsApr 16, 20144 Pages
“BREATHLESS” EXPLICATION A Paper Presented to Mr Davenport Regis Jesuit High School In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course Reading and Writing Poetry by Brittany Mills January 31, 2014 The poem “Breathless” by Billy Collins is centered on the idea and motif of death. Oddly enough though, this is a dark or melancholy work, but instead the piece shows comfort in lying in an eternal slumber. The following is a line byline explication, pulling apart “Breathless” for further examination. The poem opens with “Some like the mountains, some like the seashore, Jean-Paul Belmondo says to the camera in the open scene”. The line about mountains and seashores is a reference to where ashes are often scattered. John-Paul Belmondo is the actor who starred in the movie Breathless, which too is a reference to death. Stanza two reads, “Some like to sleep face up. some like to sleep on their stomachs, I am thinking here in bed—“. The author now speaks of how bodies are positioned at the time of their deaths: face down and face up. The fact that the author is thinking about this all while lying in bed implies how casual a subject this is. Although later on it is discovered that this bed he speaks of is, indeed, his coffin. “Some take shape of murder victims flat on their backs all night, others float face down on the dark waters”. Again, this is referencing the way bodies lie at the time of death, although cause of death is also mentioned now. Lying face up is obviously a victim of foul-play, as stated. Lying face down, however, indicates suicide. The dark waters emphasize night time and darkness, which is part of the death motif. “Then there are those like md who prefer to sleep on their sides, knees brought up to the chest,” the fourth stanza, is where the author begins

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