Tag Archives: poetry

The Very Best in Onion Poetry

6 Oct

Photo courtesy of FeatheredTar on Flickr

Whether red and raw or sweet and caramelized, onions always entice me. The only thing that excites me as much as food, and men excluded, is words. Here are my favorites in onion poetry:

Ode to an Onion by Pablo Neruda

Onion,
luminous flask,
your beauty formed
petal by petal,
crystal scales expanded you
and in the secrecy of the dark earth
your belly grew round with dew.
Under the earth
the miracle
happened
and when your clumsy
green stem appeared,
and your leaves were born
like swords
in the garden,
the earth heaped up her power
showing your naked transparency,
and as the remote sea
in lifting the breasts of Aphrodite
duplicating the magnolia,
so did the earth
make you,
onion
clear as a planet
and destined
to shine,
constant constellation,
round rose of water,
upon
the table
of the poor.
You make us cry without hurting us.
I have praised everything that exists,
but to me, onion, you are
more beautiful than a bird
of dazzling feathers,
heavenly globe, platinum goblet,
unmoving dance
of the snowy anemone
and the fragrance of the earth lives
in your crystalline nature.

Fruits & Vegetables by Erica Jong

I am thinking of the onion again, with its two O mouths,
like the gaping holes in nobody. Of the outer skin, pinkish
brown, peeled to reveal a greenish sphere, bald as a dead
planet, glib as glass, & an odor almost animal. I consider
its ability to draw tears, its capacity for self-scrutiny,
flaying itself away, layer on layer, in search of its heart
which is simply another region of skin, but deeper &
greener. I remember Peer Gynt; I consider its sometimes
double heart. Then I think of despair when the onion
searches its soul & finds only its various skins; & I think
of the dried tuft of roots leading nowhere & the parched
umbilicus, lopped off in the garden. Not self-righteous
like the proletarian potato, nor a siren like the apple. No
show-off like the banana. But a modest, self-effacing
vegetable, questioning, introspective, peeling itself away,
or merely radiating halos like lake ripples. I consider it
the eternal outsider, the middle child, the sad analysand
of the vegetable kingdom. Glorified only in France (other-
wise silent sustainer of soups & stews), unloved for itself
alone-no wonder it draws our tears! Then I think again
how the outer peel resembles paper, how soul & skin
merge into one, how each peeling strips bare a heart
which in turn turns skin…

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