Margaret Atwood has deeply involvedwith nationalism and the rise ofindependent cultural values in Canada.Although she has spent a lot of time inAmerica but she has never thoughtherself as an American poet.
She is apoetess with different attitude. Sheshows the status, position and life ofwoman but she never wants to callherself a feminist poet. Actually she isa passionate observer of Canadian lifeand shows man-woman relationship,sense of alienation, civilization vs.wilderness, mortality, savage land andidentity crisis in her poetry. And toexpress all these, she needs constantchange into other forms to attain whatshe desires.If we look at her collection of poemsthen we find a gradual change of themein her poetry. In her „The Circle Game?(1966) she wanted to show thedeceptive ordinariness of daily life andthe continuous problems that wereceive due to technology. In her „TheAnimals in That Country (1968)?,wefind poetry of conflict and contrastsbetween familiar and unknown,civilization and wilderness, man andanimals.
In her „The Journals of SusanMoodie (1970)?, she took a peculiarway to show Canadian history as shehere told us everything from theviewpoint of famous pioneer woman,Susanna Strickland Moodie. Here shewanted to show Canadian identity,brutality of civilization, awe of thelandscape, forest and uprising terrorwith a difference between sinister andpicturesque. In her „Procedures forUnderground? (1970), she dealt withhaunted past, fear of death, oblivionand loss. In her „Power Politics?(1971), she showed her feministic www.
rersearch-chronicler.com Research Chronicler ISSN-2347-503XInternational Multidisciplinary Research journalVolume III Issue I: January 2015 (133) Editor-In-Chief: Prof. K.N. Shelkeattitude and suffering, bitter treatmentand subjugation of woman.
In „YouAre Happy? (1974), she wanted toovercome her suffering, despair andwanted to seek happiness andfulfillment in life. In „Two-HeadedPoems? (1978), she dealt with femalebody, heart, bloodiest incidents inCanadian history. In her „True Stories?(1981), she raised the issue of politicaloppression and environmentaldevastation. So in these volumes, shedealt with various themes and issues.Discussion of some of her poems willclear this very well.
Atwood in some poems raises issuesand problems regarding childdepression to show greater problems.In her „A Sad Child?, she wants toshow us the pathetic condition of childwho takes pills in sadness and out ofdepression. Sadness is also needed inlife so that we can appreciate thehappiness and it is also shown. Alsoshe wants to show sadness as a part oflife and not as a tragedy and one has tomove on in spite of all these. Sheseems to offer a somewhat disquietingsource of comfort to an otherwiseunfair world ruled by favoritism andsadness. As she says:”You?re sad because you?re sadIt?s psychic. It?s the age, It?schemicalgo see a shrink or take a pillor hug your sadness like aneyeless dollYou need to sleep.
” (A SadChild)Contemporary society, feministic anddidactic attitude are also part ofAtwood?s poetic world. In „TheMoment?, she shows how man?s claimto retain the ownership of earth, theinherent folly behind the notion ofownership and finally shows the reasonthe reason for man?s inability tocapture earth. Only Mother Naturewith her animate and inanimate objectwill continue to live and dictate terms.Actually a deconstructive readingshows that it is a poem which appealsto the environmental activism, thehistory of Canada and Europeanimperialism.
As she says:”You own nothingyou were a visitor, time aftertimeclimbing the hill, planting theflag, proclaimingWe never belonged to you.You never found us.It was always the other wayround.
” (The Moment)Atwood?s poetic world also consists ofmyths and allusions. And it is shown inher „Siren Song?, a very clever, conciseand darkly facetious poem. Here thespeaker is one of the three sirens whichallude to Greek mythology. She herechanges the point of view in herrevision of the Siren song andexamines a side of the story that hasnever been explored before. It is apoetry that criticizes men who aregreedy, not so smart and fade incomparison to the woman?s mind.Here also the obvious bias incharacterization put on woman now ischanged as here men are trapped. Shesays thus:”This is the one song everyonewould like to learn: the songthat is irresistible:the song that forces mento leap overboard an squadronswww.rersearch-chronicler.
com Research Chronicler ISSN-2347-503XInternational Multidisciplinary Research journalVolume III Issue I: January 2015 (134) Editor-In-Chief: Prof. K.N.
Shelkeeven though they see beachedskulls.” (Siren Song)Atwood?s poetic world is also full ofimagery, symbols as she uses a varietyof literary devices to explain herpoems. One such is „Flying InsideYour Own Body?. Here she usesimagery of lungs filling and spreadingthemselves like „wings of pink blood?.Here the wings are the symbol offreedom.
The bones are hollow andrepresent the outline of human body. Aclose reading of the poem shows thatone can only be free and havehappiness in her sub consciousness.But after weakening, one is sure to besubdued by the pain, sorrow and harshreality of life. As she says:” The Sun?s a hot copper weightpressing straightdown on the think pink rind ofyour skull.It?s always the moment justbefore gunshot.
You try and try to rise but youcannot.”(Flying Inside Your Own Body)In her career, she often talks about loveand the need of it. As in „February?,she talks about her negative experiencewith that particular month. AsFebruary is a month associated withlove and she has no one to share herlove. But the concluding lines showher optimism as she has set out herjourney to find her love.
As she says:”You?re the life principlemore or less, so get goingon a little optimism around hereGet rid of death. Celebrateincrease. Make it be spring.”(February)Pat memories also haunt her and gaveher pain. In „Bored?, she adopts achildish, resentful tone and says thatshe would be bored with nothingsignificant to do and linger in theshadow of her father.
But now shefeels that she thinks foolishly that timeand wants to go to that workless worldagain. As a postmodern writer, she alsomakes satirical impersonations ofmodernist writers. Actually she wantsto tell us that we should find joy insmall things also. As she says:”I could hardly wait to getthe hell out of there toanywhere else.
Perhaps thoughboredom is happier. It is fordogs orgroundhogs. Now I wouldn?t bebored.
Now I would know too muchNow I would know.” (Bored)Atwood illustrates a remarkabledetermination and strong will to facedeath which is a recurring theme inmany poems like „Another Elegy?,Marrying the Hangman?, „Time?,„Bedside?, „Flowers? and „Morning inthe burned house?. In „Morning in theburned house?, she says that nothingremains here as everything has beendamaged by fire and smoke. As shesays:”No one else is aroundwhere have they gone to, brotherand sister,mother and father?” (Morning inthe burned house)In „Flowers?, the speaker feels pity andsad for her dying father. The speakerrealizes that one day she will also dieas man is mortal and death is commonto all. As she says in the concludinglines:”…even the memory of how Ibrought them from a garden,I will no longer have by then,www.rersearch-chronicler.com Research Chronicler ISSN-2347-503XInternational Multidisciplinary Research journalVolume III Issue I: January 2015 (135) Editor-In-Chief: Prof.
K.N. ShelkeAnd put them beside my dyingfatherHoping I could still save him.”(Flowers)Feminism is also present in her poeticworld or cosmos.
In „Helen of TroyDoes Countertop Dancing?, she showsthat woman?s beauty and sexuality atone level control and dominate man?sdesirability and on another level, itmakes her into object in the eyes ofmen. So the poem raises a questionabout how women should perceivetheir sexuality and whether it is asource of power or something hidden.The concluding lines what men missand what they do in order to think awoman in his way:”I hover six inches in the airin my blazing swan-egg of light.You think I?m not a goddess?Try me.
This is a torch song.Touch me and you?ll burn.”(Helen of Troy Does CountertopDancing)Atwood also comments on love in herpoetry and judges it with reality andtruth behind it. In her „Postcards?, sheshows many things through theelements of love. The pictures on thepostcard are inappropriaterepresentations of reality as they aremerely delusions.
The last few linesshow that the emptiness andhollowness in the postcard and love. Adeconstructive reading however showthat here Atwood experiments toconflate between internal and externallandscape and also the painful realityof love. As she says:”Turn you over, there?s theplacefor the address. Wish you werehere.
Love comesin waves like the ocean, asickness which goes onand on, a hollow cavein the head, filling andpounding, a kicked ear.”(Postcards)Atwood?s poetic thought sometimescaptures several issues in one singlepoem. As in „You Begin?, the world,our views of it, freedom, limitation,perception, bias all issues are present.We restlessly attempt to understand theworld and paradoxically comprehendthe incomprehensible. But with thegrowth of age, men learn.
HereAtwood shows her mastery over wordsand their uses as she uses the word„hand? metaphorically: “The word hand floats aboveyour hand like a small cloud over a lake The word hand anchors Your hand to this table Your hand is a warm stone I hold between two words.”(You Begin)In her „This is a Photograph of Me?,she shows feminism with identitycrisis. In patriarchy, males are creatingwoman?s stories. Like the blurredphotograph, a woman?s contribution tosociety is shadowed. It is also a poemabout Canadians who tend to remain inthe background and have centristpolitics. But the poet does not want tohistoricize the time of woman?sexploitation. As she says:”but if you look long enougheventuallyyou will see me.” (This is aPhotograph of Me)Search for identity, quest and warningare found in her „Procedures for www.
rersearch-chronicler.com Research Chronicler ISSN-2347-503XInternational Multidisciplinary Research journalVolume III Issue I: January 2015 (136) Editor-In-Chief: Prof. K.N. ShelkeUnderground?. In this poem, she issuesa dire warning to those who arelistening to her as she talks about thecountry beneath the earth.
Underground here may be consideredas Hell but Atwood conjures up theprocedures a person may adopt to gothere for the knowledge of humanconsciousness. Here a deconstructivereading shows that the journey is aboutthe search for human identity. And shesays that traveling to the underworldmay not be a simple victory, for thetraveler is cautioned:”You will findthose who were once yourfriendsbut they will be changed anddangerous.” (Procedures forUnderground)Atwood in some of her poems like„The Animals in That Country? alsoreveals the ugly deeds of her countrymen and his ancestors. She refers tothe people of England who establishedtheir colony in Canada, a place whereoppression has been rampant for years.They haunted the natives like sly,predatory animals. Now these peopleare in power in Canada and engage inthe bloody sport of provoking and thenkilling animals to provide immensejoy.
Actually Atwood does not want toforgive the colonizers who havedestroyed her country?s civilizationand thus thrust the so called moderncivilization on the natives. As theconcluding lines show that the nativeshave no identity of their own:”In this country the animalshave the faces ofanimals.Their eyesflash once in car headlightsand are goneTheir deaths are not elegantThey have the faces ofNo-one…” (The Animals inThat Country)Atwood in her poetry makes a lot ofcomparisons. In her „In the SecularNight?, she shows her anger and regretfor not escaping from theimprisonment of the strong loneliness.
She has also compares childhood lifewith present life. Actually she wants toshow that people who are in a greatdepression often lose their principlesand belief. And ultimately they pullthemselves further away from theirfaith and expectation from God isalmost vanished.
Here she also playswith words, languages as aphorism isalso shown here:”There is so much silencebetween the words,You say. You say, The sensedabsenceOf God and the sensed presenceAmount to much the same thing,Only in reverse.” (In the SecularNight)Atwood is humorous also as it isshown in „The Landlady?. Here shealso plays with words like the bossylandlady?s slamming the doors aboutthe house which tantamount toslamming the lodger?s days, the daysshe would have spent in productivework. Search for identity is also hereas it is often difficult to recognize oraccept what one already is.
Here arethe lines which show her mastery overwords with satirical humour:”Over a vast facewhich is the landlady?s.. . .www.rersearch-chronicler.
com Research Chronicler ISSN-2347-503XInternational Multidisciplinary Research journalVolume III Issue I: January 2015 (137) Editor-In-Chief: Prof. K.N. ShelkeShe stands there, a raucous factBlocking my way.
Immutable a slabOf what is real,Solid as bacon.” (The Landlady)Her „Spelling? is a poem which showshow language and image reveals andconceals the problems and issues forfeminist discourse. With apparentsubjectivity, imperialism in the form ofman?s sexual domination, feministideals, sexual identity with culturalpolitics she gives a new outlook andthought in this poetry. She evenpersonified language here:”the wordsplits and doubles & speaksthe truththe truth and the bodyitself becomes a mouth.”(Spelling)Atwood in his poetry in a very skillfulway shows Nature and parents in apeculiar and parallel way. In her „NightPoem?, she shows how Naturecontinuously protects our lives andrelates real aspects of life to the partsof nature. Weather is here shown inparental figures.
As the opening linesshow:”There is nothing to be afraid ofit is only the windchanging to the east, it is onlyyour father the thunderyour mother the rain.” (NightPoem)Conclusion:So in the concluding lines it can besaid that Atwood presents variousvoices, cultures, issues, images andsymbols that make up the grand mix ofAmerican identity and she isdescended from the settler?s who madethe New World possible. Atwoodfocuses on social and psychologicalquestions of contemporary life, but stillshe manages to provide the mythic andcultural resonance.
What she believesis that a poet raises voice in acontinuous way from a private andcultural consciousness. And it isdifficult to distinguish Atwood as apoet or novelist or publicist becausewe have created various Atwood in ourimagination to satisfy our culturalneeds. Actually she is a feminist,satirist, mythological poet, nationalistand formulator of critical theories.