Homage to the Mineral of the Onion (I)

In the onion, there’s

something of fire. That fire known as

Fog. The onion is the way

fog has of entering the earth.


Into the soil. Through the green leaves of the onion.


Look how its leaves extend up into the air.

Look how, once cut,

an onion’s leaf has air inside it.


Air is the generosity of fog.

With fog, there is generosity on earth.

These two thoughts are identical.


They are two thoughts that sustain the earth.

In these bellicose days that promise wars,

look how the onion helps fog

to sustain the earth.

Dive in
  1. What special powers does this poem attribute to the onion?
  2. Imagine how an onion looks, feels, smells, tastes, and sounds. Which of your senses does the poem awaken? Which does it leave out?
  3. In what ways might fog sustain the earth?
  4. This piece is part of a bilingual (Galician and English) series called “Homages to Water” that includes “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage” and “Homage to the Force of the Potato,” which are all ingredients in borscht, the national soup of Ukraine. How does the picture of people sharing their country’s soup with the world add to your understanding of the onion’s powers?
  5. Notice how often nouns are repeated: fire-fire, fog-fog, leaves-leaves, etc. Read the poem aloud slowly, underlining which words you emphasize. When you reach the one line with nouns that appear nowhere else, how does the tone of your voice change?
  6. Think of a food that comes to mind when you think of “peace.” Write a poem paying homage to that food.


Useful Links


Watch Erin Moure read “Homage to the Mineral of the Onion (I)” at the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xaxnv4RwCQE


Read an interview with Erin Moure in which she tells a high school student how she feels about translation, travel, and potatoes: http://m.openbooktoronto.com/clelia/blog/great_canadian_writers_craft_interview_er%C3%ADn_moure


Observe the process of borscht making, keeping the poem’s roles of onion, fire, and fog in mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDT2g6nzHaM


Watch the stop-motion short film of Erin Moure’s companion poem “Homage to the Mineral of Cabbage” in Galician: http://movingpoems.com/2013/02/homenaxe-ao-mineral-do-repolo-homage-to-t...

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Bibliographical info

Erin Mouré, “Homage to the Mineral of the Onion (1)”, from Little Theatres. Copyright © 2005 Erin Mouré. Reprinted by permission of House of Anansi Press.

Source: Little Theatres (House of Anansi Press, 2005).

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