Though homely, our heart can be like that of the homely Potato
June 23, 2022 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Potatoes have inspired a surprising amount of poetry. Some are justly famous, like Pablo Neruda's "Ode to the Potato". Others are... really bad. Really really bad.

In Lillian E. Curtis' "The Potato", she asks, "What would this world full of people do / Rich and poor, high and low / Were it not for this little-thought-of / But very necessary Potato?" James McIntyre, better known for writing about enormous cheeses, spent a brief change of subject exhorting his readers, "for a minute, lend your luggs / Our theme, it is potato bugs." And while Joseph Gwyer's book "Sketches of the Life of Joseph Gwyer (Potato Salesman) With His Poems (Commended by Royalty)" mostly covered other topics, it did invite readers to purchase sacks of potatoes by mail. The New York Tribune recommended that customers uncertain whether to choose the poetry or the potatoes should pick the potatoes.
posted by kyrademon (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by sammyo at 5:29 AM on June 23

Ah, here's the problem. I've had the website filter switched from Meta to Potato for the last few days.
posted by AlSweigart at 5:32 AM on June 23 [5 favorites]

posted by FatherDagon at 5:43 AM on June 23 [4 favorites]


posted by lalochezia at 5:56 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]

posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:00 AM on June 23

Unsurprisingly, Seamus Heaney's potato poems tend to be more about the farmers than the crop, but he has some good ones.

I am here for potato-filter; loving this trend.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:12 AM on June 23

The potato in my kitchen shall become fries
For the sin of its starchy goodness it dies
I’ll eat it with no remorse
And plenty of fry sauce
And tomorrow I’ll give Metafilter potato recipes more tries
posted by inflatablekiwi at 6:13 AM on June 23

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the spuds
that were in
the pantry

and which
you were probably
for hash browns

Forgive me
they were delicious
so crisp
and so potato
posted by chavenet at 7:00 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

(Honestly Neruda was kind of working too hard for that one. First stanza is UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME, but after that it gets a bit overdone. Like some potatoes.)
posted by humbug at 7:00 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]

posted by clew at 7:52 AM on June 23

Francis Ponge
posted by mumimor at 7:57 AM on June 23

Needs a verybadpoetry tag.

I am All Here for very bad poetry.
posted by Quasirandom at 12:43 PM on June 23

Nineteenth-century Brittany was another hotbed of potato poetry! Yann ar Gwenn wrote no fewer than three songs on the subject (note: only the third link actually has lyrics). Most of these were done around the '40s, when Brittany experienced the potato blight alongside Ireland, albeit to a less... genocidal degree. One of these, altered by a subsequent poet, was included and translated by François-Marie Luzel in his Popular Songs of Lower Brittany (1890); the (French) translation is available through Wikimedia. Even today, you can find a couple of Breton-language songs about potatoes on Youtube.

Two articles on Breton potato poetry (the second has the full text of a number of poems and songs). Both in French; unfortunately, the Anglophone world hasn't yet caught onto this cultural phenomenon!

(Note to dissuade any requests for clarification: I know next to no Breton myself, so will be pretty useless in translating anything)
posted by the tartare yolk at 2:59 PM on June 23 [2 favorites]

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