The Poetry of Cheese

Welcome to my page of quotes from cheese poetry, a counter to G. K. Chesterton’s “Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”  ’Tis not so!  —ღ Terri

My forthcoming work in five volumes, “The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,” is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful if I shall live to finish it. I cannot yet wholly explain the neglect to which I refer. Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Virgil, if I remember right, refers to it several times, but with too much Roman restraint. He does not let himself go on cheese. Except Virgil and the anonymous rhymer of “If all the trees were bread and cheese,” I can recall no verse about cheese. Yet it has every quality which we require in exalted poetry. It is a short, strong word, and it rhymes to “breeze” and “seas.” Cheese has also variety, the very soul of song. ~G. K. Chesterton  [a little altered –tg]

Shall I compare thee to a blue veined cheese
thou art more moldy and more curdly blue
~Barry Hopkins, “Sonnet 18⅔”

Dear Lady, I beg you
To cook as you please,
But don’t overlook the
Importance of cheese!
~Ruth McCrea, The ABC of Cheese Cookery, 1961

Don’t take a chance on chili
With cheap, chunky cheese,
I tell you true,
Once you chew,
You’ll get a champion wheeze…
~David L. Harrison, “Choosy”

Cheese is one food that I really adore,
Every day, I seem to eat more and more.
Why, there is Red Leicester, Gouda, Gruyere and Brie,
And mild Gorgonzola on rye is for me.
Mozzarella is simply nice on its own,
While Edam on toast, I can surely condone…
~Janna Tiearney, “Cheese Please”

What are flowers without the bees,
What of grasses without the breeze?
Nothing the wind if not for the trees,
Nada la quesadilla sin el cheese.
~Terri Guillemets, “O! queso what?,” 2017

The auld wife sat at her ivied door,
(Butter and eggs and a pound of cheese)
A thing she had frequently done before;
And her spectacles lay on her apron’d knees…
~Charles Stuart Calverley, “Ballad,” c. 1881

A furniture maker by trade, James McIntyre turned his hand to poetry in order to help others appreciate the many wonders of Canada as he viewed them. Key among them: cheese. Few could argue with his rationale; to wit, “it is no insignificant theme.” ~Kathryn Petras & Ross Petras, Very Bad Poetry, 1997  [McIntyre (1827–1906) was known as The Cheese Poet. I’ve quoted below several of his cheesy verses. –tg]

The ancient poets ne’er did dream
That Canada was land of cream,
They ne’er imagined it could flow
In this cold land of ice and snow,
Where everything did solid freeze,
They ne’er hoped or looked for cheese…
~James McIntyre, “Oxford Cheese Ode,” Poems, 1884

When Father Ranney left the States,
In Canada to try the fates,
He settled down in Dereham,
Then no dairyman lived near him;
He was the first there to squeeze
His cows’ milk into good cheese…
~James McIntyre, “Father Ranney, The Cheese Pioneer,” Poems, 1884

Then let the farmers justly prize
The cows for land they fertilize,
And let us all with songs and glees
Invoke success into the cheese.
~James McIntyre, “Lines Read at a Dairyman’s Supper,” Poems, 1884

And since they justly treat the soil,
Are well rewarded for their toil,
The land enriched by goodly cows
Yields plenty now to fill their mows,
Both wheat and barley, oats and peas,
But still their greatest boast is cheese.
~James McIntyre, “Oxford Cheese Ode,” Poems, 1884

Our muse it doth refuse to sing
      Of cheese made early in the spring,
      When cows give milk from spring fodder
      You cannot make a good cheddar.
The quality is often vile
      Of cheese that is made in April,
      Therefore we think for that reason
      You should make later in the season.
Cheese making now you should delay
      Until about the first of May.
      Then cows do feed on grassy field
      And rich milk they abundant yield…
~James McIntyre, “Dairy Ode,” Poems, 1884

Now we close this glorious theme,
This song of curds and rich cream…
~James McIntyre, “Father Ranney, The Cheese Pioneer,” Poems, 1884

Poetry of Cheese Quotations
Original post date: 2013 Nov 27
1st major revision: 2020 Feb 17
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