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On Turning Ten Summary & Analysis
by Billy Collins

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"On Turning Ten" was first published in the American poet Billy Collins's 1995 collection The Art of Drowning. One of the most popular contemporary U.S. poets, Collins is known for his humorous and conversational poems. This poem parodies a long tradition of "birthday poems," in which older poets reflect, often quite depressingly and with quite a bit of self-absorption, on their encroaching mortality. Here, the speaker is a child facing the prospect of turning 10 with horror and dread. Wistfully reminiscing about his life up until this point, the speaker contrasts the imagination and sense of invulnerability of early childhood with the painful loss of innocence that he must face in growing up.

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