The Theme of Poetry

The theme of poetry is death. I tell people, if you’re majoring in English, you’re majoring in death. The oldest theme in poetry is cape diem, and the reason you would carpe the diem is that you don’t have too many diems left. But poetry always looks at life through this lens of mortality. And looking at it through that lens tends to italicize life and the result provides the second greatest theme in poetry perhaps, and that’s gratitude. Gratitude for being alive.

– Billy Collins

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