The orchard offered fruit,
And I did eat.
The field imparted grain,
And I did graze.
The farm gave up the calf,
And I consumed.
Her mother furnished milk
To quench my thirst.
The market tendered goods
Both fair and fine,
To tempt my tongue
And fill my eyes and ears
With vague desires.
The bending world laid bait,
And I did eat.
Jonathon has taught literature on two continents, and has read, written, and conversed about it on three. He has published poetry, fiction, and reviews in Dialogue, Sunstone, Victorian Violet Press, Gangway Magazine, Mormon Artist, Mormon Midrashim, Mormon Review, Switchback, and WIZ, and was anthologized in Tyler Chadwick’s (Ed.) Fire in the Pasture.
Illustrating painting: Pieter Cornelisz van Rijck (1558?1628), Still Life with Two Figures (1622). Oil on canvas (123.8 cm × 148.6 cm).
2 thoughts on “And I Did Eat by Jonathon Penny”
Okay, i have brought the discussion over here, Jonathon. This poem seems deceptively simple, but it seems to me that something deeper is going on here. A bit of disclosure here–I’m trying to transition to a vegetarian (or mostlty) life-style for many different reasons, so I may be viewing your poem through this lense! Is your poem about how humans take and take from the earth and the other species that inhabit it? That this consuming is tied somehow to the Fall–each stanza ends with “And I did ____”. Poor Adam: “I did eat of the fruit . ..”
He sure did–and now the planet is dying.
Forgive me if I am imposing my own interpretation on this poem. It’s very tantalizing. Can you comment on its meaning? Thanks.
Well, like I said over on FB, I’m hesitant to impose a reading, not because I’m overly worried about intentionality, but because I often find that readers see things in my work I didn’t realize were there in the first place.
But let me hazard a reply that doesn’t close things off.
Yes, the allusion is Edenic. But I see a shift about halfway through: in the first half, things are offered in a pure and sacrificial way. The “fruits” of the earth present themselves for use. In the second half, the nature of the “offering,” and of the consumption, change, with consequences.
Does that help a little?