The Traveling Onion

The poem is about acknowledging the small things in life that make an individual happy even when they don’t understand it at first. Personally, I love onions, so I love this poem. I noticed a lot of examples of hyperbole and personification in this one in particular. There is one instance of alliteration. Two parts where I found a hyperbole were in the lines “I would kneel and praise all small forgotten miracles” and “never scold the onion”. These are hyperbole because the narrator won’t actually worship the onion and she wouldn’t actually scold the onion either. Two parts where I found personification were in the lines when she describes that the “onion has traveled to enter my soup today” and that the onion has “its traditionally honorable career: for the sake of others, disappear”. These are examples of personification because the onion can’t actually travel itself into a soup and it doesn’t have emotions like a human to let other vegetables receive the glory and praise for their appearance and taste. There was also alliteration in her poem: “paper peeling” where the “p” is that sound repeated twice. Then there is one instance where I had a difficult time distinguishing if the line was a hyperbole or figurative language or possibly both: “Onion falls apart… a history revealed”. Figuratively, history will not literally be revealed by the onion which can also be taken as a hyperbole.


“The Traveling Onion” By Naomi Shihab Nye


When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way the knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,


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