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Morning in the Burned House
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Morning in the Burned House

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,545 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
These beautifully crafted poems - by turns dark, playful, intensely moving, tender, and intimate - make up Margaret Atwood's most accomplished and versatile gathering to date, " setting foot on the middle ground / between body and word." Some draw on history, some on myth, both classical and popular. Others, more personal, concern themselves with love, with the fragility o ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 16th 1996 by Mariner Books (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 27, 2012 T. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, favourites
I remember this book well. It was 2006: it was before lunch, it was October, it was raining a bit. I was at a workshop, we had a bit of a break, I was nervous and jittery and mooching off somebody's cigarette pack. I hoped buying a book would make me feel better. My favourite book shop at the time was allowed to set up a table outside the hall - maybe they heard that writers have been congregating here for the past two days - and I thought it was a pretty smart decision. We bought a lot of books ...more
Apr 17, 2016 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had just heard Margaret Atwood give a lecture before reading this collection, during which she described and illustrated her upbringing in rural Quebec and early career in the developing poetry scene across Canada. I feel as though this insight into her history helped flesh out a large portion of the poems included in this book.
That said, I appreciate Margaret's voice, which I'm so familiar with in prose, come through as poetry. She's always a treat to read and I look forward to reading other
Jan 02, 2016 Alexa rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-re-read, fab-15
This (so far) is my favorite book of Atwood’s poetry. I simply connected with this in so many ways! First of all it’s a beautiful little book; aesthetically it had me from the very first moment. And in the end it gave me more unmixed pleasure than any of her other volumes of poetry. So many of the poems spoke to me. They felt rich and mature and real with no facile silliness; there’s lots of intriguing oddness here, delightfully engaging puzzles as well, and some that made me cry. This is a love ...more
Lindsay Gloade-Raining Bird
Feb 14, 2012 Lindsay Gloade-Raining Bird rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Hard-core Atwood fans only.
I'm not a huge fan of Atwood's myth-inspired/persona poetry. It reads forced and pretentious to me. Similarly, I had little interest in the reimagining of her childhood after her father's death, almost attempting to build her own past into myth. There was one or two lines that really hit me but as a whole, at least 2/3 of the book were throwaway, that I would likely have no interest in reading again. That being said, the whole book is worth a handful of poems. It's all they need. The first secti ...more
Aug 26, 2015 ATJG added it
Shelves: 2015
An absolutely incandescent book of poems brimming with startling imagery and ideas of exquisite beauty. Reading her poems about her father's death make me less afraid to die and reading her poems about everything else make me less afraid to live. What higher praise can be given a book?
May 30, 2009 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2009
I must confess up front: while I'm a (perhaps too much so) devoted fan of Atwood's novels, from what I've read of her poetry, I'm just...not all that impressed. I always hear people talk about her powerful poetic voice and her wonderful turns of phrase, incredible emotion, and lingering images. For a poet working contemporaneously, however, with people like Anne Sexton, Maxine Kumin, Adrienne Rich, among many many other great poets working from the 60s onward, I don't think Atwood's poetry will ...more
Dec 19, 2007 DJ rated it really liked it
The individual poems are often hit or miss, but when they hit they do so with a depth of insight, a clarity of vision and a stunning beauty of prose that all the mediocre poems are forgiven.

There is a section I love, in which she writes poems about women in history: Ava Gardner, Helen of Troy, Miss July. There, her ability to craft a character in a few words simply shines. Her images, often, aren't as specific as they could be, and some of the poems remind me of things I wrote when I was a teena
May 30, 2014 Darlene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists
Recommended to Darlene by: Laura
I borrowed this book from my daughter ages ago. She and I both forgot I had it. I remember visiting her and finding it and sitting and reading with fascination during some boring quiet time. She had many poems dogeared and I could say those were my favorites also. I like Margaret Atwood's writing style, her descriptions were wonderful.

Though the font was small the format of poetry left plenty of empty page to rest my eyes. Even so I needed to take my time with it to fully absorb the depth of the
Aug 09, 2014 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first time reading Atwood poetry and it made a strong impression on me - her voice is clear and firm, almost harsh.
This selection particularly, was focused more on aging, memories of youth and trifle things; the loss of her father was expressed without too many unnecessary details and teary lines - but just as real and painful as it is for everybody.
I hope to read more of her, because this one didn't quite meet my expectations.
I did enjoy very much "February", "Shapechangers in winter
Feb 28, 2014 May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Old age, love, loneliness, war, mourning - one could tuck such themes into the thick, wintertime blankets of Margaret Atwood's poetry collection, Morning in the Burned House.

Of the five 'chapters' into which the collection is divided, the second is particularly powerful; in poems such as Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing and Ava Gardner Reincarnated as a Magnolia, Atwood presents prostitutes as goddesses - superior, desirable, assertive. "I'd rather be a flower [...] to be trampled," saysthe s
Laurel L. Perez
Dec 29, 2014 Laurel L. Perez rated it it was amazing
I've never read any of Atwood's poetry until now, and I am very sorry it has taken me quite so long. Reminiscent of the loevly language found in "The Handmaid's Tale", but more personal. I do agree with one reviewer that there are poems especially in the second and third section of the collection that kind of veer off & are so surreal it's hard to follow, in comparison to the perhaps more concrete work that preceeds it, and closes the collection. I have to to say that the first section left ...more
May 27, 2012 Story rated it it was amazing
The poem that made me buy this book was "Miss July Grows Older," which rang out like a whip-crack on the processes of age and desire and fading.

I can't say how many breaths this collection took from me. I can't say how hard it was to grieve with her. By far, one of my favorite books of poetry.
Kayley Fouts
Aug 10, 2015 Kayley Fouts rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is the first book of Atwood's poetry I've ever read, and I've fallen in love with her writing, she creates amazing moments with her striking images and delicious sounds. A new favorite of mine for sure!
Jan 18, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing
Wow. WOW. How is it possible for someone to be so talented? I'd never read Atwood's poetry before, and given her exceptional talent for writing fiction and prose, I didn't expect this volume to be of the highest caliber, only because I'd never seen an exceptional fiction writer craft exceptional poetry, and vice-versa.

Well, Margaret Atwood is that rare writer who excels in both forms. Her language is crisp and precise, yet nuanced and elegantly paced. It would seem she is able to switch from the
Jul 25, 2015 Amélie rated it really liked it
Shelves: poésie, canada, 2015
Je ne sais pas s'il faut y voir quelque chose de plus grand, mais ces temps-ci je lis beaucoup de livres que je ne comprends pas tout à fait. Je pense que c'est bon pour moi. Pas comme un sirop pour la toux ou des portions parfaitement adéquates de légumes verts, mais comme -- se laisser glisser dans le déboussolement. Gratter un peu désespérément la surface des mots, pour essayer de voir ce qu'ils ont dans le coeur. Être surprise par des miettes de sens, juste au moment où on ne pensait plus en ...more
Dec 29, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Though I really cannot remember the last time I read a book of poetry, when I spotted this library discard by the well-respected Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, I could not resist. I was hooked with the first poem, as I felt that these words could have echoed from my own thoughts -- a feeling that continued with many more poems in this book. I also loved that she did not feel the need to make her poems rhyme or follow any specific rhythm. I believe the technical term is free verse. At any rate ...more
Lisa M.
Mar 09, 2012 Lisa M. rated it liked it
Shelves: 5252, poetry
I will admit, I’m not a huge Atwood fan. I’ve tried to read a few of her novels but never got into them— despite being impressed by their backs and her reputation. I do like her flash fiction/prose poetry, however. So a few months ago I decided to buy this— one of her poetry collections— to see if it impressed me. When I started reading this book I was shocked to see how amateur the poetry read to me. Atwood writes a lot of surreal poetry here, but she doesn’t seem to think her reader will get i ...more
Maggie Mason
Apr 03, 2013 Maggie Mason rated it liked it
Margaret Atwood is a favorite author, but this is my first read of her poetry. My favorite poem from Morning in the Burned House:


You forced me to give you poisonous gifts.
I can put this no other way.
Everything I gave was to get rid of you
as one gives to a beggar: There. Go away.
The first time, the first sentence even
was in answer to your silent clamour
and not for love, and therefore not
a gift, but to get you out of my hair
or whatever part of me you had slid into
by stea
Paige Mcburney
Mar 07, 2015 Paige Mcburney rated it it was amazing
I have read some of Atwoods other poems and I hated them. It was probably because it was a school project, but this book of poetry simply captivated me. A poem is supposed to make you feels something and that is exactly what happened. I read these over and over and never grow tired of them. Atwood is one of my favorite writers and I think more people should read her work.
May 04, 2014 Dawn rated it it was amazing
Having not read much poetry since my childhood days of Silverstein, I was really apprehensive about this book. I'm a huge Atwood fan and I was nervous of being disappointed. I most certainly was not. She writes with grace and edge and honesty. I found myself dog-earring and re-reading multiple poems. The images these poems leave you with are both beautiful and painful.
Jan 31, 2014 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Margaret Atwood's brilliance shines in everything that she writes. This is the first volume of her poetry that I have read, and like her novels, the work is complex, moving, and very diverse. At times dark, then humorous, then intimate, they cover a variety of themes. Most moving to me were her tributes to her dying father and her poetry about aging and love. Five plus stars.
Sep 10, 2010 Kasandra rated it really liked it
This is a mixed bag, many poems seem flat & feel nonconsequential/unimportant/even a bit boring, but when she hits one out of the park, she really hits it. Much of the themes are about the passing of time, loss, death, and (of course) feminine energy/opinion/voices. Atwood's poetry is very plainspoken and straightforward, and I think I'd have liked many of these better if they had more "strange" or "weird" to them, more mystery.... but her persona poems are fantastic. The opener, "You Come B ...more
May 27, 2016 Noel is currently reading it
I am savoring this wonderful book of poetry. I only let myself read one or two of the poems a day because I don't want to rush through the writing.

Margaret Atwood is a favorite of mine. Her use of language is, particularly in a poetry setting, is delicious.
Mar 20, 2016 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
These poems are divided into five sections. Most of the poems in the first three sections didn't quite hit the mark, for me, although I liked Red Fox, Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing, Half-Hanged Mary, and especially Marsh Languages. The poems in section four, about Atwood's father, are, in my opinion, the best of the bunch, and remind me of the poems that Wendell Berry wrote, in his collection Entries, about his dying father. Section five is strong too, especially the poem Shapechangers in W ...more
Nov 23, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-a-copy, poetry
In this poetry collection, Atwood is smart, sharp, and dark (like most of her work). Her series of poems about her father's death are heartbreaking and real (she is not playing up her grief, just telling it like it is). The poems about mythology/art are more interesting if you familiarize yourself with those stories before reading her poems. I never learned much mythology in school, and haven't made it a priority to do so now, but I should.

Some of her lines/phrasing just punch you in the gut and
Mar 25, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've only ever read her poetry, not any of her bestselling and critically acclaimed fiction, but I do love Margaret Atwood and the way that she weaves words. Pragmatic and lyrical at the same time, she makes emotional impact with no pretense. Highly recommended.
Nov 15, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it
Margaret Atwood has long been one of my favorite poets. This was published in 1995, but i sort of drifted away from poetry over the last few years, and am just getting back to it. The poems here are just as good and powerful as her work from the 70s, which i'm more familiar with. Amazing how consistent she is - the voice is unmistakably the same after all these years. Much of the subject matter is the same too - the politics of gender is still front & center (Half-Hanged Mary is an excellent ...more
"You think I'm not a goddess? Try me. This is a torch song. Touch me and you'll burn." (Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing, pg 36)

That's right, I was out of her novels to read, so I moved on to her poems.
Alison P
May 21, 2016 Alison P rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Atwood's poetry is always a little dark; this one included a lot of references to mythology

Poems I liked:
February (p 11)
Manet's Olympia (p 24)
Romantic (p 45)
Dancing (p 90)
The Moment (p 109)
Jan 31, 2016 Joy rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, 4-star, 2016
I wanted to start reading more poetry and Margaret Atwood was the answer. As with her novels, she draws you in with writing that's easy to connect with and then hits you with something that stops you in your tracks. I'm amazed at how she can strip a phrase down to only the essentials to express something so insightful.
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Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, childr
More about Margaret Atwood...

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“The truth is seldom welcome, especially at dinner.” 46 likes
“Red Fox

The red fox crosses the ice
intent on none of my business.
It's winter and slim pickings.

I stand in the bushy cemetery,
pretending to watch birds,
but really watching the fox
who could care less.
She pauses on the sheer glare
of the pond. She knows I'm there,
sniffs me in the wind at her shoulder.
If I had a gun or dog
or a raw heart, she'd smell it.
She didn't get this smart for nothing.

She's a lean vixen: I can see
the ribs, the sly
trickster's eyes, filled with longing
and desperation, the skinny
feet, adept at lies.

Why encourage the notion
of virtuous poverty?

It's only an excuse
for zero charity.
Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger
corrupts absolutely,
or almost. Of course there are mothers,
squeezing their breasts
dry, pawning their bodies,
shedding teeth for their children,
or that's our fond belief.
But remember - Hansel
and Gretel were dumped in the forest
because their parents were starving.
Sauve qui peut. To survive
we'd all turn thief

and rascal, or so says the fox,
with her coat of an elegant scoundrel,
her white knife of a smile,
who knows just where she's going:

to steal something
that doesn't belong to her -
some chicken, or one more chance,
or other life.”
More quotes…