The Nature Of Memory Loss In Forgetfulness By Billy Collins

Decent Essays

Oscar Wilde famously stated “Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.” What happens to that diary, however, when our memories are forgotten. Is our diary forgotten too? The poem, “Forgetfulness” by Billy Collins, describes in vivid detail the nature of forgetting experiences and knowledge acquired over a lifetime. It is clear that the speaker is suffering from some form of memory loss, and throughout the poem, he portrays the emotions and experiences that go hand in hand with forgetting these memories, experiences, and his personal diary. The speaker uses excessive hyperbole, somber imagery, and a nostalgic, reflective tone to convey the pain associated with memory loss. These devices illuminate how memory loss slowly breaks down and tears apart someone’s personal experiences and emotions, leaving them in a painful, desolate solitude. The use of excessive hyperbole points out the enormity of pain the speaker is feeling about losing his memories and experiences. The speaker of the poem explains how the “memories you used to harbor decide to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain.” (6-7) The memories the speaker harbored over the years, did not literally “decide to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,” but the memories did disappear to an unknown land, in this case, the unknown land is the “southern hemisphere of the brain.” This exaggerated hyperbole expresses the magnitude of the pain the speaker is feeling, and brings this pain to the reader’s

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