Speaker and Language

Table of contents


The poem “How To Eat a Poem” by Eve Merriam has an unnamed speaker who invites the reader to “bite in” (l. 2) the poem and enjoy the sensations it brings. Although the speaker’s identity is not revealed, it is most likely that the speaker is Eve Merriam herself, who invites children to read and enjoy poetry.

The poem is written in the second-person perspective: “Don’t be polite. Bite in” (ll. 1-2). From the beginning, the speaker addresses the reader directly and formulates an invitation that almost sounds like a command. The speaker invites the reader to forget about being civilized and formal and to approach a poem with an open mind, without hesitation: “You do not need a knife or fork or spoon or plate or napkin or tablecloth” (ll. 6-7...

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