Ode to the Onion

Onions and wine
I
Unmanned by grief at Antony’s imminent departure
Enobarbus confessed, “And I, an ass, am onion-eyed
For shame”, forced to show his true, craven nature;
The power of the humble orb had pierced his pride.
This soft soldier suffered womanly transformation,
Precursing ignoble betrayal of his noble general,
Prior to an ultimate, base and fatal degradation.
Yet unjustly, onions of the genus Allium suffer odium,
Though mankind’s oldest vegetable, steadfast friend,
Who at man’s outset offered a melancholy exordium,
Scoring its lesson with hot, acid tears unwelcomed,
Doomed by weepy ingrates to harsh odium
O, onion, hard, good mentor, least flattering gentle,
You do forewarn us of crueller fates more subtle.
II
But more than nagging mentor, the onion is cure,
And staple, in variegated cultures, in its own hues,
One of the aspagarles, it has promiscuous allure,
Whether raw, fried, in garnishes or wet stews.
It submits to culinary torture, without complaint,
Since tribes farmed in Palestine, with date and fig.
Its thin concentric rings stripped left no taint,
Signalling pharaohs a thing supermundane quick,
Spurring Rameses the Fourth to onion his eyes,
To after breathe eternal life beyond the grave;
Onions too may used to prick boils on the rise,
Or in poultices provide anti-inflammatory salves.
Whether against sore disease or for eternal life
The humble onions benefits are ubiquitously rife.
III
Grecian athletes improved their spriteness of foot
Digesting baskets of onions to thin thick blood.
Gladiators onion massaged feet ere donning a boot.
So valued, feudal peasants would pay their lord,
As rent, used to soothe his bowel, or swell erection,
Or to keep his hair. Columbus took it to America,
Food more valuable than gold in Indians’ opinions;
Its blessings are wondrous as miraculous panacea.
So easily we may shed a tear when we dice or cut,
Or when we peel; tears not due to caustic enzymes
We call allinases; but because of guilt as we gut
A friend who dies for us, on whom we daily thrive,
Whether a bulb or potato onion, or from Wales
Or Egypt, green, or red or white, it never fails.
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