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Published: 09-10-2019

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Transformation in "Eating Poetry"

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 initial 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 much more with the difference in how individuals encounter and consume poetry, particularly the drastically distinct ways the man and the librarian both take pleasure in 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, nearly as if in a clandestine confession, that his happiness is due to his consumption of poetry. At first the reader is unsure as to no matter 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 which means of the poem is a lot more than its surface metaphors. Eventually, when “the poems are gone”, he experiences the first of numerous adjustments in mood, which also leads to a tonal shift in the poem (Line 7). His joy starts to turn into sadness, mirrored in the librarian’s behavior at the sight of the man’s destruction. The impact of the poetry on the speaker is highlighted when he references and describes dogs that “are on the basement stairs and coming up” as if they are on wild or insane (Line 9). These dogs turn into an critical symbol, as the speaker’s consumption of poetry leads him to seemingly transform into 1 of them. It is as if the dogs are hungry for far more poetry. Perhaps they were as soon as guys like the speaker, and have consumed so considerably poetry that their getting has been permanently transformed. Their arrival brings the tone of the poem speedily from sadness into chaos. The speaker’s transformation is spurred on by the appearance of the dogs. He embraces their chaos and becomes a single of them. This is mirrored in the type of the poem itself, as the last two stanzas include the only instances of finish rhyme throughout the poem. This is meant to finalize the transformation itself and show how content the speaker is as soon as he is transformed. From this chaos and transformation, the tone of the poem and the mood of the man shifts back to the joy from the starting: he is a “new man, / [he] snarl[s] at her and bark[s], [he] romp[s] with joy in the bookish dark.” (Lines 16-18). The poetry he consumed has taken him and turn into a portion of him, altering his being into some thing much far more primal.

This display of primal behavior, the speaker’s require for poetry and instant transformation, is deeply upsetting to the librarian since it is not something she has skilled. Even “[h]er eyes are sad” when she sees the damage the man has caused to the poetry in the library (Line five). The librarian is drawn into the chaotic mood when her at-1st demure attitude and quiet sadness later become outright weeping. As librarians are the protectors of all things literary and treat the written word with a reverence, she is devastated at the destruction of some thing she is meant to safeguard. She would by no means dream of destroying poetry in the way that the man has in his consumption. Her discomfort with the man’s actions are also highlighted in the type of the poem. Line 5 showcases the Strand’s only use of enjambment. All of the other lines finish in some type of punctuation, mostly periods. They are extremely concise phrases, whilst line five is considerably more fluid. This use of enjambment serves to show that the librarian reacts to the destruction of the poetry right away without having getting capable to hide her feelings. She is horrified at his actions.

Although the librarian is upset at the man’s remedy of poetry, her discomfort may also stem from confusion. On a deeper inspection of the poem, the concentrate shifts from the speaker’s actions and the librarian’s subsequent horror to the discomfort of the librarian. “She does not understand” how the man can treat poetry in such a harsh manner simply because she has often been taught to revere the words (Line 13). The concern is not that she is upset, but that she cannot figure out why the man would do such a factor. From her literary viewpoint, poetry ought to not be abused or destroyed. The chaos his consumption of poetry and transformation brings is not something that she is comfy with, nor is it a point she has ever experienced herself, as poetry has in no way transformed her the way the it has for the man. The librarian serves to remind the reader that experience and the way we consume poetry is person and private.

The quantity of shock and dismay the librarian reacts to the scenario with indicates this individual experience. Since everyone consumes items in distinct methods, the man and the librarian are experiencing the identical scenario very dissimilarly. He voraciously consumes the poetry and permits it to transform him and the way he acts. For him, this is the ultimate tribute and act of really like for the words he has internalized. They became a piece of him and he is produced of them. For the librarian, on the other hand, poetry is a ritual. It is a sacrament and to be respected. Neither way is correct or incorrect, but the way they every single adore the words is a quite intimate and private knowledge. Her discomfort is a result of seeing anything she loves torn up and destroyed in the teeth of the speaker. She is frightened of the way it transforms him because poetry has never affected her like that. In his attempting to show her the way the poetry has produced him really feel, in an almost apologetic style, when he “lick[s] her hand,” she is horrified to the point of screaming due to the fact his animalistic behaviour is outdoors of her comfort zone. (Line 14).

The meaning of this poem is a lot more than its 1st impression. The very first impression the reader gets is one particular of a dog, speaking as a man, destroying a librarian’s poetry. The whole poem can be read very actually like this, from the man consuming poetry to his “get[ting] on [his] knees” like one of the dogs (Line 14). Even so, the metaphor is significantly deeper on closer inspection. Strand creates a parallel between the man, transformed into some thing animalistic by the words he has read, and the bookish librarian to comment on the approach of private knowledge. Two people can really like the exact same point in very various ways. The distinction does not make either of their feelings lesser or invalid, but does make it hard for a single to comprehend the other. Strand plays off of the intimate individual encounter that comes from loving anything so much that it affects your being, and how that affectation looks to outsiders.
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