By Joe Corrie
About the Author
Joe Corrie (1894–1968) was a Scottish miner, poet and playwright best known for his radical, working class plays. He was born in Slamannan, Stirlingshire.
His family moved to Cardenden in the Fife coalfield when Corrie was still an infant and he started work at the pits in 1908. He died in Edinburgh in 1968.
Shortly after the First World War, Corrie started writing. His articles, sketches, short stories and poems were published in prominent socialist newspapers and journals, including Forward and The Miner.
Eat More is one of the poems he wrote responding to the commercial slogans that insist on eating balanced diet regardless of their social and economic status.
By Joe Corrie
Eat more fruit! the slogans say
More fish, more beef, more bread!
But I’m on Unemployment pay
My third year now, and wed.
And so I wonder when I’ll see
The slogan when I pass
The only one that would suit me
Eat More Bloody Grass
The poem pinpoints two types of classes in this society. There is high class (employed ones) that is capable of affording the balanced diet as suggested by the slogan. They can afford to eat fruits, fish, beef and bread. On the other side there is a poor/low class (unemployed ones) represented by persona. This is a class that eats just to survive. The only meal they can afford is what he calls “bloody grass”.
The persona seems to come from developed countries in which the unemployed people are paid to sustain their living. The persona is one of those who live on unemployment pay. He says “but I’m on unemployment pay”. Since he lives on unemployment pay he cannot afford to eat a balanced diet.
Poverty is rampant world over. Even I developed countries there are people who find it difficult to meet their basic needs. The persona comes from the poor class who cannot afford to eat balanced diet as suggested by the commercial slogan. That is why he suggests what he can afford “eat more bloody grass”. This suggests that he can only afford the vegetables which more often than not are cheap or can be obtained free of charge. This is very suitable for poor people.
The persona is showing an open protest towards the slogan that insists on eating balanced diet. He shows that it is not suitable for poor people since what poor people can afford are the vegetables. He says
“The only that would suit me
Eat more bloody grass”
a) What is the poem about?
The poem is about the attitude of an individual toward a commercial slogan that convinces people to eat balanced died. He is angry because he does not earn enough money to make him afford the foodstuffs suggested. Instead he says he can only afford bloody grass (vegetables)
b) Who is the persona and how do you know?
The persona is a poor unemployed man who lives in poverty. This is revealed in stanza one verse three where he says “But I’m on Unemployment pay”.
c) What is the tone and mood of the poet?
The tone is an angry and satirical first because of the slogan that tells him to eat what he cannot afford. Secondly, because he is unemployed. He uses the words “bloody grass” to show his anger and the satire that is in the society with poor people but it tells them to eat balanced diet.
d) What type of the poem is this?
It is a Lyric poem because it is very short and it expresses strong feelings of an individual toward a commercial slogan.
e) Comment on the rhyming scheme of the poem
The poem has a regular rhyming scheme that goes abab/cdcd. The following words show the rhyming scheme say/pay, bread/wed, see/me, pass/grass
f) Comment on the language use in this poem
The language used is simple and straightforward. It is easy to understand and get the intended message easily. It is also full of figures of speech and poetic devices:
The slogan say. (the slogan cannot say)
Poetic license (violation of grammatical rules)
The slogan say (the correct grammatical sentence would be “The slogan says”)
The slogan say
I wonder when I’ll see
More fish, more beef, more bread
The words “bloody grass” symbolize vegetables
h) What are the lessons that we learn from this poem?
- We should fight against Poverty as it makes us fail to meet our basic needs.
- It is better to eat a balanced diet.
- Everybody deserves the best. Classes are not good in the society.
- The government should create enough employment opportunities for the citizens to help them earn a living.
g) Is the poem relevant to Tanzania?
The poem is relevant to Tanzania today in a number of ways:
i) There is a problem of unemployment in our society.
ii) There is poverty everywhere.
There are many commercial slogans of all sorts heard on radios or on TVs that advertise different goods and services claiming that they are cheap and affordable by everyone. The fact is, in the society not all people can afford to buy or use every product or service. These include, beverages, hardwires, mobile phone bundles, furniture, electronics, services like education and health in private schools and hospitals respectively. Etc. these services and products are class oriented.