“Embrace” is a poem by Billy Collins that depicts perspective and identity at the same time. In a strong use of imagery, Collins brings out a number of contrasting ideas. At one moment, a couple is embracing, and the next, they are desperately languishing in solitude. A closer look at the poem reveals the aspect of a portrait. However, there is suspense as to whom the portrait depicts. Figurative language is clearly used to explain the personas emotional anguish.
Pertaining to perspective, the poet employs perfect use of the second person. The use of imagery brings out the denotations of the poem to help the reader understand the deeper meaning in the poem. In the first line, “You know the parlor trick” (in 1), the poet uses the word ‘parlor’ to denote an isolated place where people meet to converse. It is suspense to the reader as to whether the reader knows such a place. This indicates what transpires in the rest of the poem, as the reader must understand the meaning of a parlor.
The persona shows a deep need to embrace.
Wrapping is one of the imagery used, “Wrap your arms around your own body” (ln 2), it signifies psychological volatility and thus straightjackets are used. It indicates an aspect of isolation and solitude for an individual wrapped up in a straight jacket. ”And from the back it looks like (In 3) the use of vivid description is clear. The persona introduces visualization for a clear understanding of what he is talking of.
“Someone is Embracing you” (ln 4) creates a mood of emotional connection. The fourth line together with the third line use vivid description to show his emotions and the personas longing to connect. “Her hands grasping your shirt” (ln 5) uses vivid description to show actions and personality of a female. Her fingernails teasing your neck” (In 6) the reader identifies the connotative meaning of the poem and proof the poet is eager to connect with another individual after a long period of solitude. Imagery depicting the extent of loneliness he longs for her presence and touch. There is a lot of suspense as the “her” in the poem is not known, and her relation to the persona seems to be tight.
Contrast is also clear in the poem “From the front is another story” (In 7) one would expect that the persona has the same experience from the front similar to the back. On the contrary, “Alone” is used in the eighth line “quite close. You never looked so alone” (ln 8) to bring out the aspect of contrast and prove there is solitude. “Your crossed elbows and screwy grin” (ln 9), the persona uses imagery in the phrase “Screwy grin” to give a clear picture of the person. “You could be waiting for a tailor” (In 10) the persona introduces symbolism of a tailor “To fit you with a straight jacket” (In 11) this “straight jacket” symbolizes the need to have someone who is extremely close to the persona. The tailor therefore, symbolizes the person with the ability to create a connection with the persona and relieve him of his solitude. “One that would hold you really tight” (In 12). Therefore, the persona is yearning for affection from another person because of seclusion. The persona is of the notion his seclusion is going to be cured by being held with a tight embrace or a hug
. The persona has significantly employed the use of figurative language. The persona uses contrast to show the distinction between a lonely person and one who is not He also makes use of symbolism “from the back” (In 3) to allude to the past. The use of vivid description is also significant as the persona describes his experience of solitude and sadness. It gives the reader a visualization of the personas emotions. The use of suspense creates a rapport that draws the reader into poem. The persona employs various images such as straightjacket, embrace, really tight and grasping to bring out the emotions clearly. In conclusion, all these images depict a perfect sense of perhaps personal loneliness, sadness and depression because of solitude.