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Lorna Goodison’s “Songs of the Fruits and Sweets of Childhood” is undeniably lovely in its language and tone of nostalgia. The first stanza, which reads,

O small and squat

with thin tough skin

containing the slick flesh

of mackafat

which makes fillings

like putty between

the teeth.

immediately grabbed my attention. I had to google what many of the fruits Goodison described were, and I was delighted to match her descriptions with images that she so vividly rendered on the page. A mackafat fruit resembles a coconut in its exterior and Goodison’s description of it, “O small and squat / with thin tough skin” is perfect.

The starapple

wears a thick coat

of royal purple

and at its center

sports a star

of many points.

This is a lover’s fruit

because it runs

with a sweet

staining milk

and the flesh

if bitten too deep,

has been known to bind you.

These stanzas, depicting the star fruit, are rich in language as I imagine, from Goodison’s description, the fruit is rich in flavor. There is a tenderness in her words; “sweet staining milk” and “the flesh / if bitten too deep, / has been known to bind you.” The idea of this food as a “lover’s fruit” set the stage for these images and serve to make them more powerful. Though each of these stanzas may stand alone in their beauty, the final serves as a seal to end the poem.

And the ring game

or join up

of pink top

candy bump

going round and round

in a ring

of the fruits and sweets

of childhood


Goodison has succeeded in captivating her nostalgia for childhood through her descriptions of the fruits she likely ate during that time of her life. Her subject is a simple one, so her use of beautiful, sometimes complex language to describe these things from a simpler time of her life only make the work more lovely to the reader. The idea that something as simple as the fruit one ate during her childhood can model as the subject for such a lovely poem is lovely in itself, and the specificity and attention to detail within this poem only highlight Goodison’s ability as a poet in that she does not need to write about extravagant or pretentious things for her writing to be successful. I admire that she wrote this beautiful poem, that I will likely read several more times before I move on from it, about something that most people would not consider.

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