15 Delectable Poems about Food and Eating

Writers have been thinking and rhapsodizing over the wonders of the culinary world for centuries. Who hasn’t wanted to sing the praises of that perfect peach or your mom’s homemade noodle dish that no place could ever surpass? Here are 15 great poems about food covering odes to particular food items, food and immigration, and food and humor.

Classics

Here are some classic poems about food from eminent authors of old:

Inviting a Friend to Supper by Ben Johnson

“Tonight, grave sir, both my poor house, and I 

Do equally desire your company; 

Not that we think us worthy such a guest, 

But that your worth will dignify our feast 

With those that come, whose grace may make that seem 

Something, which else could hope for no esteem…

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Goblin Market By Christina Rossetti  

Morning and evening 

Maids heard the goblins cry: 

“Come buy our orchard fruits, 

Come buy, come buy: 

Apples and quinces, 

Lemons and oranges, 

Plump unpeck’d cherries… 

Read more here

Odes to a Single Food

These are poems dedicated to a single category of food. Personally, peaches are my preferred poetic food.

From Blossoms By Li-Young Lee 

“From blossoms comes

this brown paper bag of peaches

we bought from the boy

at the bend in the road where we turned toward   

signs painted Peaches.

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Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Robin Robertson

Here,   

among the market vegetables,

this torpedo

from the ocean   

depths,   

a missile   

that swam,

now   

lying in front of me

dead.

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The Traveling Onion by Naomi Shihab Nye 

When I think how far the onion has traveled

just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise

all small forgotten miracles…

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Blackberry-Picking  by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun

For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.

At first, just one, a glossy purple clot

Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.

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Mutton by Jonathan Swift

Gently stir and blow the fire,

Lay the mutton down to roast,

Dress it quickly, I desire,

In the dripping put a toast…

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Coolness of the Melons by Matsuo Basho, Translated by Robert Hass

Coolness of the melons

flecked with mud

in the morning dew.

Food and Immigration

Here are poems reflecting on the experience of immigration and connection and alienation from one’s cultural foods.

América By Richard Blanco 

I.

Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered

at least half a dozen uses for peanut butter—

topping for guava shells in syrup,

butter substitute for Cuban toast,

hair conditioner and relaxer—

Mamá never knew what to make

of the monthly five-pound jars

handed out by the immigration department

until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.

Read more here

 

Oxtail Stew By David Dominguez 

At five o’clock in the morning,

I walked to work and passed the green ponds

of Horizon Park where the last bluegill,

caught on the low, slight bank,

panted hard in the dark mud, crushed glass,

sour bottle caps, whiskey,

and the iron weight of heat and smog.

Read more here

Kids

When talking about food, you have to talk about food in fun and silly ways.

I Wave Good-bye When Butter Flies By Jack Prelutsky 

I wave good-bye when butter flies

and cheer a boxing match,

I’ve often watched my pillow fight,

I’ve sewn a cabbage patch,

Read more here

Sorry I Spilled It By Shel Silverstein

The Pin

The Clean Plater by Ogden Nash

Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,

And some of ladies lips,

Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,

And course ones hymn their hips.

Read more here

 

I had to include this poem for my dark dark heart. 

The Walrus and the Carpenter By Lewis Carroll 

The sun was shining on the sea,

      Shining with all his might:

He did his very best to make

      The billows smooth and bright —

And this was odd, because it was

      The middle of the night.

Read more here

Appetite Loss

Sometimes we do not want to eat.

The Gourmet’s Love-Song By P.G. Wodehouse

HOW strange is Love: I am not one

Who Cupid’s power belittles,

For Cupid ’tis who makes me shun

My customary victuals.

Of, Effie, since that painful scene

That left me broken-hearted,

My appetite, erstwhile so keen,

Has utterly departed.

Read more here

 

Still hungry? Check out this list of 100 books about food or 5 YA books about food!

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