“Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand – Analysis and Poem


“Eating Poetry” begins by the author eating poetry books. The ink is still dripping from the author’s mouth. The librarian can’t believe her eyes. The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming towards her. She stamps her feet and cries. The author then gets on his knees and licks her hand and celebrates his new found self.


This poem is quite obviously an extended metaphor. The dog is the author who can’t help but read more poetry and feel extreme excitement. “The poems are gone” could possibly mean that the author did not replace the books on the bookshelf after he was finished reading. “The dogs” could refer to other patrons in the library, possibly other poetry lovers (from a poetry club?). She is upset and he tries to tell her how happy he is by getting “on [his] knees and lick[ing] her hand”. He continues to be happy with his newly consumed books.

Poem: “Eating Poetry” by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

Gary R. Hess

Gary was born and raised on a small farm in rural Kansas. Today, he is teaching various nationalities English in Southeast Asia.

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