Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How to Eat a Poem

How to Eat a Poem
By Eva Merriam

Don't be polite.
Bite in.

Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
may run down your chin.

It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon or plate or napkin or tablecloth.

For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

The poet compares a poem to a fruit to show that a poem is meant to be savoured fully, like a fruit. When she says "bite in," she means it as an invitation to the reader to taste and enjoy the poem. Just as the fruit is rich in juice, the poem is similarly rich in meaning. The poet also tells us in the second stanza that there is nothing to throw away in the poem because every word is precious and nothing ought to be wasted.

By comparing a poem to a fruit, the poet is trying to tell us to look forward to reading poetry and reading it enthusiastically, in the same way we would look forward to sinking our teeth into a juicy fruit.

Poets make use of metaphors in poetry for many reasons. Sometimes poets use metaphors to help us understand something that is hard to describe, and other times they use metaphors to leave a deep impression on our minds. Metaphors enliven ordinary language and make us sit up and take notice of what the poet is trying to say.