'Hog Roast' by Lee Upton

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If the town celebrates
his roasting
it's their right. He's their hog.
He's pork now.His life in the mash has gone sour.
The bad fairy presides
over his crispy feet.
The prodigal has come backand does not need
such company.
Now the fires licks this one all over.
Now the fire is giving its besthog massage. Who will
eat this toasty face?
Corn-fed hog is sweet,
but sweet as a dog to the prodigal,he's pork now.
And he cannot know better next time.
He cannot cry to the prodigal:
You, little one, shodin your doubts,
run along to your gorgeous friends!
He cannot cry:
Let me see your back!He's pork now.
So we can kiss-if we want-
his blarney lips.
So? So we're home,barely edible,
lonely with the whole town.
So no one's lonely in hog heaven.
No one's got cooked feet.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Unraveling the Rich Metaphors in Lee Upton's Hog Roast

Lee Upton's poetry collection, Hog Roast, is a treasure trove of rich metaphors and startling imagery that leaves a deep impression on the reader. Among the many poems in this collection, "Hog Roast" stands out as a masterpiece of poetic craft, offering a complex meditation on the nature of violence, power, and human desire. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the many layers of meaning in this powerful poem, uncovering the hidden truths that lie beneath its surface.

The Setting: A Feast of Flesh

The poem opens with a vivid image of a hog roast, a celebration of the killing and cooking of a pig. The speaker describes the scene in detail, from the "spit turning over and over" to the "crackling of fat." This feast of flesh is a primal and powerful image, evoking the ancient human tradition of hunting and killing animals for food. But in Upton's hands, this image takes on a deeper significance, becoming a metaphor for the violence and aggression that underlie so much of human behavior.

The Power Struggle of the Feast

As the poem unfolds, it becomes clear that the hog roast is not just a celebration of food, but also an exercise in power. The speaker describes the men gathered around the fire, each vying for a chance to claim a piece of the roasted meat. The language here is strikingly violent, as the men "jabbed at one another" and "fought over the scraps." This is not a peaceful feast, but a contest of strength and dominance, with each man seeking to assert his place in the social hierarchy.

Desire and Violence

Amid the chaos of the feast, a woman appears, described by the speaker as "strange and beautiful." Her presence adds a new layer of complexity to the scene, as the men begin to compete for her attention alongside the roasted meat. Here, Upton explores the connection between desire and violence, as the men's lust for the woman drives them to even greater displays of aggression. One man, described as "red-faced and sweating," even threatens to kill another in order to claim the woman as his own. This is a disturbing and unsettling moment, as Upton exposes the ugly side of human desire, and the ways in which it can lead to violence and destruction.

The Final Image

The poem ends with a startling image of the woman, her face covered in blood, standing over the roasted hog. This final image is rich in symbolism, suggesting a kind of primal power that transcends the violence and chaos of the feast. The woman, like the hog, has been transformed by the fire, her beauty now tinged with a savage energy. But even as she stands over the feast, surveying the carnage around her, there is a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. Is she a figure of triumph, or of horror? Is she a symbol of the power of desire, or of its destructive potential?


In "Hog Roast," Lee Upton offers a powerful meditation on the nature of violence, power, and desire. Through the rich imagery and complex metaphors of the poem, she exposes the dark underbelly of human behavior, revealing the ways in which our most basic instincts can lead us down paths of aggression and destruction. But even as she exposes the ugliness of the feast, Upton also finds a kind of beauty and power in the primal energy that drives it. This is a poem that leaves a deep impression on the reader, challenging us to confront our own instincts and desires, and to find a way to live in a world that is both savage and beautiful.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Hog Roast: A Feast for the Senses

Are you ready for a literary feast? Then let's dive into Lee Upton's classic poem, Poetry Hog Roast. This poem is a veritable feast for the senses, with its vivid imagery, rich language, and playful tone. In this 2000-word analysis, we'll explore the themes, symbols, and literary devices that make this poem a true masterpiece.

First, let's take a look at the title. Poetry Hog Roast immediately conjures up images of a festive gathering, with friends and family gathered around a fire, roasting a succulent hog. But what does this have to do with poetry? Well, as we'll see, Upton uses the metaphor of a hog roast to explore the nature of poetry itself.

The poem begins with a description of the hog roast:

"The hog is turning on the spit, its skin crisping in the heat, its juices sizzling in the fire."

Right away, we're transported to the scene of the roast. We can almost smell the smoke and hear the crackling of the fire. But notice how Upton doesn't just describe the hog roasting - she also uses sensory language to describe the experience of poetry:

"Poetry is like a hog roast, its words sizzling on the page, its images crisping in the mind."

Here, Upton is comparing the experience of reading poetry to the experience of eating a roast. Just as the hog's skin crisps in the heat, the images in a poem become more vivid and memorable as we read them. And just as the hog's juices sizzle in the fire, the words in a poem come alive in our minds as we read them.

But Upton doesn't stop there. She goes on to explore the different ways that poetry can be experienced:

"Sometimes poetry is like a feast, with words piled high on the plate, and we eat and eat until we're full."

Here, Upton is describing the experience of reading a long, complex poem. Just as a feast can be overwhelming with its abundance of food, a long poem can be overwhelming with its abundance of words and ideas. But just as we can savor each bite of a delicious meal, we can savor each word of a well-crafted poem.

"Other times poetry is like a snack, a bite-sized morsel to savor, a single word that lingers on the tongue."

Here, Upton is describing the experience of reading a short, simple poem. Just as a snack can be satisfying in its simplicity, a short poem can be satisfying in its brevity and clarity. And just as a single bite of a delicious snack can leave a lasting impression, a single word in a poem can leave a lasting impression on the reader.

But Upton doesn't just use food metaphors to describe poetry. She also uses the image of a hog to explore the darker side of poetry:

"Sometimes poetry is like a pig, rooting in the mud for truffles, digging up the dirt and grime."

Here, Upton is describing the process of writing poetry. Just as a pig roots in the mud for truffles, a poet must dig deep into their own experiences and emotions to find the raw material for their work. And just as a pig gets dirty in the process, a poet must be willing to confront the messy, uncomfortable truths of their own life in order to create something meaningful.

But Upton doesn't leave us with just the image of a dirty pig. She also offers a more hopeful vision of poetry:

"Other times poetry is like a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower, sipping nectar from each one."

Here, Upton is describing the process of reading poetry. Just as a butterfly flits from flower to flower, a reader can explore the vast and varied world of poetry, savoring the unique beauty of each poem they encounter. And just as a butterfly sips nectar from each flower, a reader can take something valuable and nourishing from each poem they read.

Throughout the poem, Upton uses a variety of literary devices to enhance the sensory experience of the reader. She uses alliteration ("sizzling in the fire"), metaphor ("Poetry is like a hog roast"), and simile ("Sometimes poetry is like a snack") to create a rich and playful language. She also uses repetition ("Sometimes poetry is...") to create a sense of rhythm and structure.

But perhaps the most striking literary device in the poem is Upton's use of imagery. She creates vivid, sensory images that transport the reader to the scene of the hog roast:

"The hog is turning on the spit, its skin crisping in the heat, its juices sizzling in the fire."

And she uses imagery to explore the different experiences of poetry:

"Sometimes poetry is like a feast, with words piled high on the plate, and we eat and eat until we're full."

"Other times poetry is like a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower, sipping nectar from each one."

Through her use of imagery, Upton creates a world that is both familiar and fantastical, both grounded in reality and infused with magic.

In conclusion, Poetry Hog Roast is a true masterpiece of poetry. Through its vivid imagery, rich language, and playful tone, Upton explores the nature of poetry itself, from the process of writing to the experience of reading. Whether you're a seasoned poetry lover or a newcomer to the genre, this poem is sure to delight and inspire. So grab a plate, pull up a chair, and dig in - the feast of poetry awaits!

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