Study Guide

Eating Poetry Sound Check

By Mark Strand

Sound Check

The lines are succinct and Strand's language is straightforward in "Eating Poetry." Even if the actual content seems ridiculous, the sound of the poem comes to us so matter-of-factly that we can't help but believe what we're reading.

It's no accident that Strand chose to be particularly precise with his diction and syntax in this poem, considering that some of the themes we've addressed involve personal experience. There's no need to go overboard with explaining one's own experience, because—no matter if it's 10 words or 100—those outside of the experience will never fully grasp what it's all about. Sometimes saying "she does not understand," is explanation enough.

In "Eating Poetry," then, we don't get a ton of sound-games being played. Generally, the poem uses sound to punch up its more surreal imagery by drawing attention to those moments in a subtle fashion. For instance, we get the alliteration of "blond" and "burn" and "brush," which helps make those extra surreal moments of burning dogs even more memorable and vivid without saying too much (11). We also get some long E assonance in the very next line ("feet" and "weep") and then again with "knees" (14) and "scream" (15). These subtle, sonic echoes only highlight the more intense moments of this poem, calling our attention to the sound level, as well as the content. (As if burning dogs weren't interesting enough? Sheesh.)

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