Homework Help

What is the meaning behind Michael Johnson's poem, "How to Be Eaten by a Lion"?

user profile pic

magnotta | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:21 PM via web

dislike 0 like

What is the meaning behind Michael Johnson's poem, "How to Be Eaten by a Lion"?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

eir | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 17, 2011 at 2:30 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 2 like

This poem is about facing something larger than yourself, and doing so with dignity. As you read the poem it’s important to think more about how you feel about the character being eaten. Lines like "try to stand your ground," and not controversial, but there are also the lines:

"It may be easier just to watch,

for fighting will only prolong things"

The idea that one should be passive while being eaten because one can therefore be beautiful seems a bit odd and absurd as life advice.

So one important question that you may have in interpreting the poem is: what is its tone? How does the writer want you to feel about the advice being given.  Should you take it as sincere, or should you be outraged? The poem doesn’t make an obvious statements about that, and that is what makes it such an interesting poem.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes