Eating Poetry

An Analysis of "Eating Poetry" College

The speaker in Mark Strand’s “Eating Poetry” is transformed so much by his consumption of poetry that he frightens a librarian with his animalistic behavior. At first glance, the poem focuses on the literal and visceral consumption of poetry by the speaker and how it transforms him into a doglike creature. On closer inspection, the poem deals much more with the difference in how people experience and consume poetry, specifically the drastically different ways the man and the librarian both enjoy it. In assuming that the librarian also appreciates poetry, the reader is led to wonder why she has never transformed like the speaker.

In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker tells the reader, almost as if in a clandestine confession, that his happiness is due to his consumption of poetry. At first the reader is unsure as to whether or not this sentence is to be taken metaphorically—perhaps the speaker is actually a dog acting as a man? This is disproved later on in the poem, which hints that the meaning of the poem is more than its surface metaphors. Eventually, when “the poems are gone”, he experiences the first of several changes in mood, which also leads to a tonal shift in the poem (Line 7). His joy begins to turn into...

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