How to Eat a Poem


This study guide will help you analyze the poem “How To Eat a Poem” by Eve Merriam. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

Presentation of the poem

Title: “How To Eat a Poem” (1964)
Author: Eve Merriam

Eve Merriam (1916-1992) was an American writer and poet. Merriam published over 30 books throughout her life and was one of America’s most well-known and appreciated poets for children. The poem “How To Eat a Poem” was originally published in Merriam’s second children's poetry collection titled It Doesn’t Always Have to Rhyme


The poem “How To Eat a Poem” by Eve Merriam begins with the speaker giving instructions on how to eat a poem. The speaker invites the reader to enjoy poetry as if it were raw fruit, and to take pleasure in the fact that there are no parts going to waste.


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 


The poem uses the act of eating fruit as a metaphor for reading poetry. In the first stanza, the poet associates a poem with a fruit that can be picked up (l. 1), bitten (l. 2), and whose juices can be licked (ll. 3-4). Here, the metaphor of the juice adds an element of surprise to the poem, as it suggests that poems, just like fruit, might overwhelm one with their “juice” (l. 3), or their content.

The metaphor of eating fruit is continued in the following stanzas as well. The poet shows that people do not need cutlery and tableware when eating fruit, just like readers only need themselves and the poem in the act of reading. In the final stanza, the metaphor...

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How to Eat a Poem

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