Poetry, permission and how to make lentil soup

poetry, lentil soup

Poetry as a response to a recent blog post surprised and delighted me. I had written about grief and loss. You can read the original at Baby steps on the road to recovery My dear granddaughter, Jane-Heloise, sent me a copy of a lovely poem on the same theme by acclaimed American poet, Jane Hirshfield. The title, Da Capo, is a musical term which means ‘from the beginning’.

Da Capo

Take the used-up heart like a pebble
and throw it far out.

Soon there is nothing left.
Soon the last ripple exhausts itself
in the weeds.

Returning home, slice carrots, onions, celery.
Glaze them in oil before adding
the lentils, water and herbs.

Then the roasted chestnuts, a little pepper, the salt.
Finish with goat cheese and parsley. Eat.

You may do this. I tell you, it is permitted.
Begin again the story of your life.

like a pebble

To my delight, the poetry also formed part of a post by Nicole Gulotta on her site here. The title of her website is, ‘Eat this poem’. How delicious is that?

The second part of the post included a genuine recipe for lentil soup and because it sounded good, I made some for John and me for dinner. Most of the ingredients are staples in our house, but I did have to buy goats’ cheese and chestnuts.

poetry, permission, lentil stew

The chestnuts could have been better had I been able to buy ‘roasted chestnuts’ rather than the canned variety. ‘Chinese water chestnuts’ have a nice crunch, but lack the richness and nuttiness that I remember from my childhood. In winter, our family used to roast whole nuts in the fireplace in our sitting room. Dad used to peel them while still hot, and Mum smothered them in butter. Yum.

In spite of the chestnuts being not quite right, the stew tasted delicious and with a salad made a perfect meal. You can check out Nicole Gulotta’s recipe here.


Poetry, like cooking, mostly soothes my soul. My father’s passion for the genre sparked my own interest, probably because he read or recited it to me from my baby years. At first he chose easy children’s rhymes that I soon learned to repeat. We soon graduated to the works of A.A. Milne.

A.A Milne used food in several poems. They include ‘What is the matter with Mary Jane’, who wouldn’t eat her rice pudding. And ‘King John was not a good man’, who wants for Christmas a list of crackers and candy, chocolates and oranges among other delicacies.

Later, Dad tried the more difficult poetry of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Donne and Shelley which I eventually grew to enjoy.

My mother added a smattering of Australian poems. Banjo Patterson, Dorothy McKellar and John O’Brien. Mum and Dad both had an amazing repertoire, remembered from their school days.

Rote learning took precedence over other forms of learning when they were kids. Neither of my parents really needed books to entertain their baby daughter.

School and later

The nuns at school taught poetry. They taught it very well, and fostered in some of their pupils a long-lasting love. My favourite teacher in high school taught us to appreciate literature in all its forms, and encouraged us to write as well as read.

My delight in poetry has remained with me, all these years. I am indeed blessed.

10 replies on “Poetry, permission and how to make lentil soup”

  1. Wow! What a lovely meal and a delightfully surprising set of ingredients. Poetry and Lentil stew were strangers but now no longer; together they form companions of sustenance!
    Lovely Maureen and thank you for your blog post and telling us about ‘food for the soul’.

    1. Oh, Tricia, thank you! I love your comment,’Poetry and Lentil stew were strangers by now no longer.’ I wish I’d said that in the post!

  2. Poetry is a wonderful companion and consoler. And I love the recipe for lentil soup. I bought some chestnuts from the organic shop the other say, so I’ll certainly make it! Thank you for a lovely post.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with your comment about poetry, Christina. I hadn’t thought about chestnuts since I was four or five years old, but now it seems they are available in a few places in Perth, also. Looking forward to making this recipe again, but with proper ingredients.

  3. Definitely companions of sustenance – which you so regularly give us, dear Maureen, when you share your precious blogs.

    1. We didn’t eat the salad with the soup, Sue, but as a little second course. The soup/stew was really satisfying, and we didn’t need bread with it.

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