Study Guide

Eating Poetry Quotes

By Mark Strand

  • Happiness

    There is no happiness like mine.
    I have been eating poetry. (2-3)

    The cause for all the happiness is weird, but hey, happiness in general can be a weird thing too. It's unpredictable and constantly in a state of flux in both "Eating Poetry" and in life in general.

    I am a new man. (16)

    All the poetry eating is not only totally delightful for the speaker, but it also transforms him into "a new man." Happiness in this case can also be a transformative emotion—despite, you know, all the burning dogs and weeping librarians.

    I romp with joy in the bookish dark. (18)

    It looks like joy can be found in the dark too, so it's not always about cupcakes and fluffy puppies. It's a mysterious, fluctuating, and unpredictable emotion that's more complicated than it may initially appear to be.

  • Versions of Reality

    Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. (1)

    From the very beginning, we notice a problem with all this reality business. Is ink "really" dripping from the speaker's mouth? Or is this just figurative language? A little bit later we learn that this is real, for the speaker anyway.

    The librarian does not believe what she sees. (4)

    By now we get that the speaker is really eating poetry. But even the librarian can't believe this version of reality. We understand that reality is largely dependent on the personal experiences on both sides.

    When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
    she screams. (14-15)

    Well, no big surprise there. It looks like the speaker is having a go at conveying his newfound reality to his librarian. The only problem is that she just doesn't understand any of it because she's not the one experiencing all that joyous poetry eating. So what's left to do? Why scream, of course.

  • Transformation

    There is no happiness like mine.
    I have been eating poetry. (2-3)

    The happiness that comes from eating poetry has some transformative powers too. And since that happiness is the speaker's, we know that it's unique and will likewise influence him in its own special way.

    She does not understand.
    When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
    she screams. (13-15)

    Yeah, bad times, kids. The speaker's a kind of dog-man now—maybe not literally, but he's definitely a transformed man. And even though the speaker tries to convey his new self to the librarian, she just can't understand it. So transformations are only transformative for the speaker here.

    I am a new man.
    I snarl at her and bark.
    I romp with joy in the bookish dark. (16-18)

    The speaker is right at home with his transformation and doesn't find his barking and snarling weird at all. But for those outside of the transformation, the whole thing looks mighty weird and frightening even. Nonetheless, he romps with joy at this transformation and doesn't pay the librarian much mind.