In "Eating Poetry" by Mark Strand, what are 3 literary devices used and how do they enhance the poem?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most prevalent literary device in this poem is metaphor.  Metaphor is when a poet describes an idea that is a comparison; in this case poems are compared to food.  You cannot literally eat poetry.  Instead, Strand is arguing that the reading of a poem is a sensory experience just like eating.

For instance, in line one …

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

You do not literally have ink running down the corners of your mouth, because you are not literary eating poetry.  What an image though!

That leads us to the second literary device, imagery.  Imagery is very descriptive language at appeals to your five senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing and sight.  In addition to the visual image in line 1, we have this auditory sense in line 17.

I snarl at her and bark, (line 17)

The experience of eating poetry transforms the speaker, another metaphor.  He is carefree and sensory, like a dog.  Think about it:  dogs do not stop and think, they live by their senses and get overwhelmed by them, as described in line 18.

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

A third literary device is the use of rhyme.  Rhyme is when the ends of words have the same sounds.  This is used in the last two lines I showed you, where “bark” and “dark” rhyme.  The rhyme makes a connection between the two words and reinforces the joyful idea.

All of these devices enhance the poem by making it whimsical and fun.  We laugh at the metaphor of eating a book, and the image of the speaker as a dog. We can almost sing the poem from the rhyme.   We enjoy poetry as much as the speaker does!

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