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I was watching The Chew on TV the other day, as I am occasionally wont to do, and Michael Symon was making some sort of vegetarian chili (that sounds good, tbh, and I have the ingredients in my kitchen just now to make it), part of which involves lentils.

And he reminded everyone to check their lentils for stones before using them, referencing a poem "A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone." Nobody knew what he was talking about, but when they came back from commercial Clinton Kelly said he'd googled it and found it was an Armenian poem.

And so I googled it, too, and found several versions. A couple truncated versions called "Cleaning Lentils", and this longer one, which is so much better in being more poignant (to my way of thinking). It's by an Armenian poet named Zareh Yaldizciyan, who used the pen name Zahrad. Turns out that Chef Michael Symon has hidden depths. (I love that.)

A Woman Cleaning Lentils
by Zahrad

A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.
A lentil, a lentil, a lentil, a stone.
A green one, a black one, a green one, a black. A stone.
A lentil, a lentil, a stone, a lentil, a lentil, a word.
Suddenly a word. A lentil.
A lentil, a word, a word next to another word. A sentence.
A word, a word, a word, a nonsense speech.
Then an old song.
Then an old dream.
A life, another life, a hard life. A lentil. A life.
An easy life. A hard life, Why easy? Why hard?
Lives next to each other. A life. A word. A lentil.
A green one, a black one, a green one, a black one, pain.
A green song, a green lentil, a black one, a stone.
A lentil, a stone, a stone, a lentil.

I found this particular version at Nick Fraser's "Poems I Like", who found it in the cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

You can reach today's Poetry Friday roundup by clicking the box below.





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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
TS Davis
Jan. 13th, 2017 11:14 pm (UTC)
Poetry on The Chew?? Whoa.
Now, that is simply lovely.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Poetry on The Chew?? Whoa.
I thought it was pretty spectacular. And how a stone seemed to imply a gravestone as well as a stone in the lentils, somewhere further along in the poem.
Linda Baie
Jan. 13th, 2017 11:21 pm (UTC)
It's like an old ditty, isn't it? I love that some keep some of what I imagine are ways people taught others, making songs, sometimes teaching them during the work. And often there is another small lesson tucked in, too. Nice, Kelly!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:32 pm (UTC)
I really loved it when I found it, and I will be forever grateful to Chef Michael Symon for learning of it.
kaymcgriff
Jan. 14th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
Cool
Don't you love it when you find a poetry connection in an unexpected place? I never would have thought a cooking show would feature a poem. This is such a fun poem, too. I will think of it the next time I cook lentils.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Cool
Hard not to think of it when you think of lentils, once you've heard it. No wonder Michael Symon mentioned it!
Mitchell Linda
Jan. 14th, 2017 12:01 pm (UTC)
oh, that is so cool
What a neat find! From watching the show to looking for the poem to finding and sharing. I love it. That's a great poem to use as a mentor text. I want to work with this one. Have a great week.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:34 pm (UTC)
Re: oh, that is so cool
I sort of want it to be a mentor text too. I love how it goes from focus on the task to free associating to sort of a commentary on life (and maybe the stone becomes a gravestone), and then back to the task. SO deft and simple-seeming, but it's actually quite nuanced.
Mary Lee Hahn
Jan. 14th, 2017 02:31 pm (UTC)
My brain is like a colander. And yet, I have such a strong memory of one of my children's literature professors reading (or reciting?) this poem at a meeting at her house. It's been 30+ years since that day and I haven't seen the poem since, but it takes me right back. Thank you for giving me this poem, this memory.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 14th, 2017 11:36 pm (UTC)
The shorter version of it (which one can find in more places) doesn't get into the easy and hard life and what I read as the stone morphing from a pebble in the lentils to a gravestone. And then back. It's such a clever construction - from talking to oneself as one does the task to free association/mind wandering of a sort to the meaning of life, and back.

Glad to have nudged that memory loose for you!
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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