Study Guide

Eating Poetry Happiness

By Mark Strand

Happiness

The kind of happiness we see in "Eating Poetry" is not exactly the kind we see on Sesame Street. So although the speaker "romps with joy," we also recognize that he's doing so in the "bookish dark." Happiness, in his case, is a bit more complicated—what with all those burning dogs running around and all—but, in the end, all that poetry eating is super-enjoyable on a primal level nonetheless.

Questions About Happiness

  1. How is happiness portrayed in "Eating Poetry"? Is it simple, complicated, or a combination of both? What parts of the poem give you your answer?
  2. Why does Strand mention that the speaker romps with joy in the "bookish dark"? What do you think he's saying about happiness in this final line?
  3. How does the librarian regard the speaker's happiness? Why is her reaction to him eating poetry an important part of this theme of happiness?
  4. Why is the speaker still happy despite the burning dogs climbing up the stairs? How do those dogs participate in this theme of happiness?

Chew on This

Happiness is a personal thing in "Eating Poetry" that can't always be successfully conveyed to those outside of the experience. It's a burning dog thing—you wouldn't understand.

Smilin' ain't easy, gang. Happiness is never a simple thing in "Eating Poetry." It's always waxing and waning, depending on the speaker's moods and thoughts.

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