Marginalia Billy Collins Summary

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In the poem “Marginalia”, by Billy Collins takes a look at the marginal notes written in books. The marginal notes are seen as a communication between the reader and the words in the book. The note sometimes can be negative because they are a way of releasing frustration with the work, especially if not well received, but sometimes they are a way of celebrating on the work. [The narrator asserts students to join the conversation with author's words by writing marginal notes; however, one may say it proves to be a distraction, It causes readers to pre-judge a book and lastly, it prevents one from understanding the text.]

Marginal notes can be viewed as distractions to new owners of passing down texts. They are,“Sometimes the notes are ferocious,”(Collins) when the narrator refers to ferocious, This implies that the previous owner wrote comments in discontent. When the notes symbolize discontent they prove to be a distraction because people instead of focusing on the text will start reading the comments therefore getting disoriented and not focusing the text. When he refers ,“If i could just get my hands on you, Kierkegaard or Conor Cruise O'Brien” this implies he could be doing something better than reading their works. It also means, as the new reader sees the text may see their writings on the margin and wonder why the previous owner wrote that and may get lost or impede him from understanding and acknowledging the text and interpret the text from the actual meaning.

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