Pure verb

In a segment (“A Readable Feast: Poems To Feed the Hungry Ear”) on this morning’s Thanksgiving celebration of food poetry on NPR’s Morning Edition, from Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s “Oysters“, mulling over the experience of eating the shellfish:

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

… I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb …

Amazing (but largely unobtrusive) phonological play on the intense sensory experience of eating oysters, culminating in the metaphor of verbs as pure activity.

The segment was a kind of Thanksgiving present for listeners, with material (presented by Nicole Cohen) from Kevin Young’s food-and-poetry book of last month — which I haven’t seen but look forward to checking out.


One Response to “Pure verb”

  1. Poetic intersection « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] by the late Jack Gilbert; and a Seamus Heaney poem on oysters from Kevin Young’s 2012 collection The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (NY, Bloomsbury Group). Now my copy of the Young volume […]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: