What is the tone and mood in stanza 1 of "Eating Poetry"?

The tone of the first stanza in "Eating Poetry" is surrealistic. The mood of the stanza is deliriously joyful. Strand uses this first stanza to prepare readers for events that are soon to follow, which are his is transformation into a dog and the reaction of the librarian.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the poem "Eating Poetry" by Mark Strand , the narrator becomes so happy by absorbing poetry that he transforms into a dog. The librarian is presented by the poet as a contrasting character. She cannot comprehend what has happened to him. She becomes sad, weeps, and stamps...

See
This Answer Now

Start your subscription to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your Subscription

In the poem "Eating Poetry" by Mark Strand, the narrator becomes so happy by absorbing poetry that he transforms into a dog. The librarian is presented by the poet as a contrasting character. She cannot comprehend what has happened to him. She becomes sad, weeps, and stamps her feet. Dogs come up out of the basement as if to reinforce the narrator's new identity.

The first stanza of the poem sets the tone and mood for what is to follow. The tone is surrealistic and transformative, and the mood is joyous. The narrator likes reading poetry so much that he imagines himself becoming a dog that eats up poetry like dogs gobble up the food in their bowls when they are hungry.

The first line, "Ink runs from the corners of my mouth," sets the surrealistic tone. We might say that we are eating poetry when we read it, but the poet here gives us an image of ink leaking from his mouth like blood might leak from a piece of a raw carcass.

The second line, "There is no happiness like mine," sets the joyous mood. The narrator is exuberantly happy due to the poetry he is consuming.

The third line, "I have been eating poetry," explains the reason for the first two lines but also reinforces the tone of surrealism. Most people would write, "I have been reading poetry," but this poet substitutes "eating" for "reading," and we recall again the ravenous image of the mouth leaking ink from two lines up. We see, then, that in the first stanza, the author is setting up the tone and mood for the further details on his transformation and the librarian's reaction to it that are coming.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on