Galway Kinnell

(1 February 1927 / Providence, Rhode Island)

Oatmeal


I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone.
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have
breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary
companion.
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge,
as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him:
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime,
and unsual willingness to disintigrate, oatmeal should
not be eaten alone.
He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat
it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had
enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John
Milton.
Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as
wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something
from it.
Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the
"Ode to a Nightingale."
He had a heck of a time finishing it those were his words "Oi 'ad
a 'eck of a toime," he said, more or less, speaking through
his porridge.
He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his
pocket,
but when he got home he couldn't figure out the order of the stanzas,
and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they
made some sense of them, but he isn't sure to this day if
they got it right.
An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket
through a hole in his pocket.
He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas,
and the way here and there a line will go into the
configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up
and peer about, and then lay \ itself down slightly off the mark,
causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.
He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about
the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some
stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.
I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal
alone.
When breakfast was over, John recited "To Autumn."
He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words
lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.
He didn't offer the story of writing "To Autumn," I doubt if there
is much of one.
But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field go thim started
on it, and two of the lines, "For Summer has o'er-brimmed their
clammy cells" and "Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours,"
came to him while eating oatmeal alone.
I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering
furrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion's tatters.
For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch.
I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneaously
gummy and crumbly, and therefore I'm going to invite Patrick Kavanagh
to join me.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
7 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: autumn, ode, alone, poem, summer, friend, home

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Oatmeal by Galway Kinnell )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie Nancy Thompson (1/9/2013 6:51:00 PM)

    It's interesting how different this version is from the version in a book we have - purchased at a reading by Galway Kinnell. He autographed that particular poem at the time. There are extra lines in the version above. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie elly nelly (3/7/2012 6:26:00 AM)

    The wording should be with God's reckless wobble not with a reckless, shining wobble. (Report) Reply

Read all 2 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
  3. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  4. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  5. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  9. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  10. "Hope" is the thing with feathers, Emily Dickinson

Poem of the Day

poet Richard Lovelace

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
...... Read complete »

   

New Poems

  1. Owl & Handbag, sheena blackhall
  2. Lighthouse, sheena blackhall
  3. Human Touch, Mark R Slaughter
  4. Fishing Village, sheena blackhall
  5. Skull, Mark R Slaughter
  6. La Plonge, sheena blackhall
  7. On Waking, Rodrigo Diaz
  8. Death of the Hares, sheena blackhall
  9. 10 Scots poems from the Poetry Hat, sheena blackhall
  10. Queen Patrenialla - Part 3 Page 2, QueenPatrenia Turner, Royalt ..
[Hata Bildir]