Wake: Up to Poetry
Poem of the Week: “Leaf-Eater” by Thomas Kinsella
Though the titular kenning seems to promise a grand or heroic subject, Thomas Kinsella’s “Leaf-Eater” instead examines the inhabitant of a single leaf in the heart of a garden. Readers’ attention is directed to the minute form of a hungry grub, caught lucklessly searching around itself in “blind space” until it is compelled to “eat its own leaf.” In attending so closely to the worm’s movements, Kinsella seems to treat this easily neglected figure with a careful tenderness, inviting readers to extend their own observational powers to similar objects.
On a shrub in the heart of the garden,
On an outer leaf, a grub twists
Half its body, a tendril,
This way and that in blind
Space: no leaf or twig
Anywhere in reach; then gropes
Back on itself and begins
To eat its own leaf.
– Thomas Kinsella, from Selected Poems (2010)
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