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EATING THE PIG, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Eating the Pig" is a poem by Donald Hall, an American poet and writer. The poem was published in his collection "The Happy Man" in 1986. It is a personal and vivid account of slaughtering a pig on a farm.


The poem "Eating the Pig" is about the process of killing a pig for food on a farm. The speaker, who is presumably Hall himself, describes the various stages of the process, from the initial slaughter to the butchering and cooking of the pig. The poem also explores the themes of life and death, as well as the ethical and moral implications of killing animals for food.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the pig as it is being led to the slaughter, noting its size and the fact that it is "docile" and "innocent." The speaker then describes the act of killing the pig, with its blood flowing out into a bucket. The poem then moves on to describe the butchering and cooking process, with the speaker giving specific details about the various cuts of meat and how they are prepared.

Throughout the poem, the speaker reflects on the process of killing and eating animals, and the complex emotions that it can evoke. He acknowledges the violence and brutality of the act, but also the necessity of it in order to sustain life. The speaker grapples with questions of morality and responsibility, recognizing the role that humans play in the natural cycle of life and death.

Poetic Elements:

Form: Free verse

Theme: Life and death, morality, responsibility

Imagery: Vivid descriptions of the pig and the butchering process

Tone: Reflective, contemplative, somewhat somber

Sound: Alliteration, repetition

Language: Simple and direct, with occasional use of colloquial language

Figurative language: Metaphor, personification

Structure: Divided into sections describing different stages of the process

Symbolism: The pig as a symbol of life and death, the blood as a symbol of violence

Emotion: The poem evokes complex emotions, including empathy, discomfort, and reflection.


In "Eating the Pig," Donald Hall offers a personal and intimate account of the process of slaughtering and preparing a pig for food. The poem explores the themes of life and death, morality, and responsibility, and reflects on the complex emotions that can arise from this act. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, Hall invites the reader to reflect on the role that humans play in the natural cycle of life and death, and to consider the ethical and moral implications of consuming animals for food.

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