What is the act of eating poetry a metaphor for in "Eating Poetry"?

In "Eating Poetry," the act of eating poetry can be read as a metaphor for the speaker's insatiable appetite for reading poetry.

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In the opening stanza of the poem the speaker proclaims, "There is no happiness like mine. / I have been eating poetry." This could be read as a metaphor for the speaker's excessive fondness for reading poetry. He reads so much poetry that it feels to him like he is...

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In the opening stanza of the poem the speaker proclaims, "There is no happiness like mine. / I have been eating poetry." This could be read as a metaphor for the speaker's excessive fondness for reading poetry. He reads so much poetry that it feels to him like he is literally devouring it, as a glutton might devour food. This metaphor also conveys the idea that the poetry the speaker reads stays with him for a long time or, put another way, has a long-lasting impact on him. In the same way, food that is ingested will stay in one's body for some time afterwards.

Although the eating of poetry might be read as a metaphor, it might also be taken literally. By the end of the poem it seems likely that the speaker of the poem is in fact a dog, who has literally eaten some poetry books in the library. Indeed in the second stanza of the poem, we are told that the "librarian does not believe what she sees." This might indicate the librarian's shock and despair at seeing a pile of torn, half-eaten poetry books in her library. Later in the poem, in the fifth stanza, the speaker, referring to the librarian, says, "I get on my knees and lick her hand." In the final stanza he says, "I snarl at her and bark." Both of these quotes would seem to confirm the idea that the speaker of the poem is in fact a dog, who has literally, mischievously, been eating his way through a pile of library poetry books.

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