Study Guide

Eating Poetry Stanza 2

By Mark Strand

Stanza 2

Line 4

The librarian does not believe what she sees.

  • So, not only are we catching the speaker in the act, but so is the librarian. And she's not as happy about it as the speaker is.
  • At this point, we know for sure that there isn't any figurative language going on here. The librarian's disbelief proves that this is really happening—at least in terms of the poetry's logic.
  • But what's the point of all this "eating" of poetry? By line 4 we understand that this is really happening, but we are also getting the sense that Strand is not just writing this to make us laugh.
  • Instead there seems to be a kind of allegory going on here in which the "eating" of poetry is symbolic of the personal enjoyment of anything, be it poetry or popcorn. (Check out our "Themes" section for more on this idea.)
  • So, the librarian here looks to be representative of those outside parties that witness such ecstatic enjoyment and just can't understand it for themselves. And they can't understand it because they're not the ones experiencing it. (For more on this, shuffle on over to "Symbols, Imagery, and Wordplay.")

Lines 5-6

Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

  • It doesn't look like the librarian is romping with joy here. Maybe after seeing the joyous speaker with ink dripping from his mouth, she's wishing she could feel the same about something.
  • But instead her "eyes are sad," which tells us she can't hide those disappointed or unfulfilled feelings that she's got. 
  • She also "walks with her hands in her dress," which gives the impression that she's withdrawn and not looking to talk it up with anyone. 
  • Notice the enjambment we have here, which is different from all the periods we saw in the first stanza. Why would Strand choose to keep these ideas fluid without any interruption from punctuation?
  • Maybe we're meant to see the librarian's sad eyes and pocketed hands as part of her character. There's no need to separate the two because together they fully capture how the librarian is feeling. 
  • In this case, having one line flow into the next maintains the image of the librarian at this particular moment. She's a sad flower.

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