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Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Youth and Age

pdodd | Saturday December 13, 2014

Categories: KS4, WJEC Eduqas GCSE, WJEC Eduqas GCSE English Literature 2015, Component 1: Shakespeare and Poetry, Component 2: Prose, Drama and Unseen Poetry

Guide Navigation

  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | How to Use
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Contents of Poems
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Love and Relationships
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Natural World
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Power and Conflict
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Time and Place
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Youth and Age
  • Eduqas GCSE English Literature Unseen Poetry | Glossary

Youth and Age

A

In this poem, Billy Collins talks about death.

My Number

Is Death miles away from this house,
reaching for a widow in Cincinnati
or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker
in British Columbia?

Is he too busy making arrangements,
tampering with air brakes,
scattering cancer cells like seeds,
loosening the wooden beams of roller coasters
to bother with my hidden cottage
that visitors find so hard to find?

Or is he stepping from a black car
parked at the dark end of the lane,
shaking open the familiar cloak,
its hood raised like the head of a crow,
and removing the scythe from the trunk?

Did you have any trouble with the directions?
I will ask, as I start talking my way out of this.

What is this poem about?

In this poem Collins looks at the concept of death concluding that on occasions it is more prolonged but it can hit anyone at any time through illness or accident. Death is on the move in this poem from Cincinnati to British Columbia and as Collins suggests it is an unwelcome visitor. The mood of the poem centres around uneasiness and fear that his ‘number is up’ and that we have no control upon our destiny.

The poet’s use of language and structure

Throughout this poem Collins personifies death and it is given human qualities throughout the poem with words such as ‘tampering’, ‘scattering’, ‘breathes’  and by being described as ‘he’. There are several similes that compare death. The...


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