Margaret Atwood Poems

1030 WordsNov 19, 20135 Pages
Margaret Atwood’s collection of poems, Morning in the Burned House, could just as easily have employed morning’s homonym—mourning—in the title. The overriding theme of loss and some of its sources and consequences—aging, grief, death, depression, and anger—permeate this collection and, in particular, Section IV which is a series of elegiac poems about Atwood’s father. The collection is divided into five sections. Section I opens with the poem “You Come Back.” This poem seems to look back on a life lived in a blur in which much was missed, as evidenced by the lines: You come back into the room
where you’ve been living
all along. You say:
What’s been going on
while I was away?. . .
. . .You know it was you
who slept, who ate here, though…show more content…
The tone of these sections only softens (and just a bit, at that) in the last poem of Section III, “A Pink Hotel in California.” This poem leads us into Section IV and a series of elegiac poems about Atwood’s/the speaker’s father. Throughout Section IV, the speaker deals with her feelings of loss: her father’s slipping away into old age and Alzheimer’s and his eventual death. The final poem in Section IV “The Ottawa River by Night,” segues smoothly into Section V. “The Ottawa River by Night” begins hinting at the speaker’s sense of mortality, and Section V continues to explore and strengthen that sense. The collection ends with “Morning in the Burned House,” in which the speaker mourns a life that has slipped by, sometimes barely noticed, and nearing its end: I can’t see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything
in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,
including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy, . . . In this way, Atwood circles back to the beginning of the volume and “You Come Back,” lamenting the tunnel vision we as humans can have while living our lives and mourning the loss of opportunities for awareness, connection, and something more. If the entire collection of 45 poems
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