Bennet's Reviews > Selected Poems: 1965-1975

Selected Poems by Margaret Atwood
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Jul 20, 13

it was amazing
bookshelves: the-arts-poetry-film-music, brilliant-voices-and-language

Is there anything this woman can't do? I don't think so. Some things are better than others, and not everything engages, but she's remarkable and a favorite.

No one maps the terrain of intimate relationships quite like she does, and over the years I've appreciated the release her words have provided during many inarticulate moments. That's what poetry does best, or should -- it articulates depths of feeling and experience for which most us can find no words.

Atwood's stories often do that as well, and her poems strike me as stories translated into verse, crafted from the rawest and sweetest and strangest and truest bits.

The following are a few passages from this,
my favorite collection,
and I think they will especially resonate with,
you know who you are.


yes at first you
go down smooth as
pills, all of me
breathes you in and then it's

a kick in the head, orange
and brutal, sharp jewels
hit and my
hair splinters

the adjectives
fall away from me, no
threads left holding
me, I flake apart
layer by
layer down
quietly to the bone, my skull
unfolds to an astounded flower

regrowing the body, learning
speech again takes
days and longer
each time
too much of this
is fatal


I remember that
you said
in childhood you were
a tracer of maps
(not making but) moving
a pen or a forefinger
over the courses of the rivers,
the different colors
that mark the rise of mountains;
a memorizer
of names (to hold
these places
in their proper places)

So now you trace me
like a country's boundary
or a strange new wrinkle in
your own well-known skin
and I am fixed, stuck
down on the outspread map
of this room, of your mind's continent


An other sense tugs at us:
we have lost something,
some key to these things
which must be writings
and are locked against us
or perhaps (like a potential
mine, unknown vein
of metal in the rock)
something not lost or hidden
but just not found yet

that informs, holds together
this confusion, this largeness
and dissolving:

not above or behind
or within it, but one
with it: an

something too huge and simple
for us to see.

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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow that first poem really captures the trajectory of so many romances in such beautiful and evocative language. The second poem might have been uttered by Ralph Fiennes character in English Patient as he traces the body of Kristen Scott Thomas as she bathes. I love the third poem for the reminders of the hidden treasures within. I love that you shared this, Bennet.

message 2: by Dolors (new) - added it

Dolors I know who I am, indeed. This looks luxurious Bennet, I'm buying this one. Thank you for offering us such an exquisite taste of Atwood's poetry.

Bennet Steve and Dolors, kindred spirits, here's a taste of a summer poem, with wishes for all good things while

this is the plum season, the nights
blue and distended, the moon
hazed, this is the season of peaches
with their lush lobed bulbs
that glow in the dusk, apples
that drop and rot
sweetly, their brown skins veined as glands

no more the shrill voices
that cried Need Need
from the cold pond, bladed
and urgent as new grass,

now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe . . .

message 4: by Dolors (new) - added it

Dolors Thank you Bennet, ripe plums certainly managed to inspire me. Couldn't help but be reminded of William Carlos Williams's poem "This is just to say":

I have eaten
the plums
that were
in the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold...

Bennet Dolors wrote: "Thank you Bennet, ripe plums certainly managed to inspire me. Couldn't help but be reminded of William Carlos Williams's poem "This is just to say":

I have eaten
the plums
that were
in the icebox ..."

Love that one.

message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian GalaDali I have never known
Bennet to have a moment

Bennet Ian wrote: "I have never known
Bennet to have a moment

Whatever I do I must
keep my head. I know
it is easier for me to lose my way
forever here, than in other landscapes.

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