The Meaning in Billy Collins' “Death of the Hat” In Billy Collins’ poem “Death of the Hat,” the hat becomes a metaphor for human dignity and a way of life. The hat is seen as a natural part of everyday life, something you wouldn’t ever be without. By the end of this elegy, we mourn its loss, and we see that contemporary man is now hatless—without that self-respect—yet nature and even the dead still wear hats. The poem leaves us wondering what went wrong, and why we would abandon anything that was so much a part of life. The poem begins “Once Upon a Time,” showing that a great story is about to begin. The speaker makes clear that the hat plays an important role. The “avenues” are all filled with “rivers” of hats, a metaphor. Hats are part...The end:
..... is “Death of the Hat”: the poem is an elegy for the values that made us a society. Billy Collins has said that “The underlying theme of Western poetry is mortality” (Hassanzadeh). The hat is something we took for granted, and now it is gone from man, but not from nature, or from those who lived in a different time. They shared that value. We are now “bareheaded,” as if stripped of our respect for nature and each other, feelings we shared in common. We are all individuals, with our ipods and our cars, but we have no cohesive society or solid shared beliefs. Works Cited Hassanzadeh, Farideh. "Kritya, A Journal of Poetry." In the Name of Poetry. Dr. Rati Saxena, 2007. Web. 27 July 2010. <http://www.kritya.in/07/En/name_of_poetry1.html>.