Professor Lynne Collins
ENGWR 301 Online
13 March 2015
A Mother’s Love
Nothing can compare to the love a mother gives a child, but some children try their hardest to show them how much they appreciate their mothers. In “The Lanyard” written by
Billy Collins uses many different techniques to show us how he was feeling while writing this poem. The imagery and reflective tone he uses paints a picture in readers minds so that they can almost see what is happening as they are reading. Throughout the poem Collins makes it evident that as a child he truly believed that the lanyard he made for his mother was just as thoughtful as all the love and time she had given him through the years. Changes in the poems tense make it clear that this is a memory that meant a lot to Collins because he has remembered it over a period of time. In this free verse lyrical poem Collins relies on vivid imagery and a tone of reflection to show how we can never repay a mother’s love.
In the first stanza Collins makes the time in which this takes place very clear by saying
“the other day”. He uses great imagery by using words like “ricocheting” and “bouncing” to describe his movement around the room. This allows readers to clearly imagine him bouncing off the blue walls and eventually finding himself in the L section of the dictionary. The imagery that he uses lets the reader understand how Collins was feeling while writing this poem. The reader can feel a huge amount of nostalgia when Collins comes across the word “lanyard”, readers can sense that the word is bringing back a special memory to him. Making him stop and treasure the
Drader 2 memory he is having. “No cookie nibbled by a French novelist / could send one more suddenly into the past.”(7-8) This shows readers that seeing “lanyard” instantly took him back into the past, leaving a nostalgic feeling. Clearly this was a very vivid memory in his mind because he instantly remembers details about a past childhood camp.
He explains that he began making the lanyard at camp and that he had no experience making them. “I had never seen anyone use a lanyard. / or wear one, if that’s what you did with them. / but that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand”(13-15). He did not care what the lanyard was going to be used for, just that he was making it for his mother and that was all that mattered. Collins uses repetition to emphasize the tediousness of making the lanyard, trying to show that he put a lot of time and effort into it for his mother. It is implied that as a child he thought the amount of time that he put into the lanyard could have been compared to the amount of time his mother put into him.
In the fourth stanza he said “she gave me life and milk from her breasts, / and I gave her a lanyard”(18-19) meaning the woman that brought him into this world and fed him, he gave a simple lanyard. He is shows us how he cannot repay such and wonderful and immense gift. His mother gave also gave him “thousands of meals”, the use of the word thousand is important because it puts into perspective that she has literally given him thousands of items and he is giving her a single lanyard. Collins is making it very clear that as much as he tries to make a gift to repay her love he will never fully succeed. “Here is clothing and a good education. / And here is your lanyard, I replied, / which I made with a little help from a counselor.”(27-29) Collins is looking back on this