Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Siren Song by Margaret Atwood

The poem Siren Song by Margaret Atwood is a poem about beautiful woman who sing a beautiful song that entices men to come save them which ultimately leads to their death from crashing their boats into the jagged, rough rock around the island where they end up drowning to death. The poem starts out with the lines "This is the one song everyone/ would like to learn: the song/ that is irresistible" (1-3). This comments on society of how a lot of woman desire to be beautiful and use their beauty to attract men. Every female at some point in their life dreams of being rescued by a cute male or even to have power over that male. In the beginning of the poem, the reader gets the sense that it is someone who has witnessed the acts of the sirens and the male rescuers is speaking. However it ends up that the speaker of the poem is a Siren herself. This shift is seen in line ten of the poem. She tells the tale of her life as a Siren and appears to be bored with what she does. The story she tells in the poem leaves the reader at the end feeling sympathetic towards the life of a siren. The poem is like the siren's song itself. It entices the reader to give the siren sympathy. However when one sits back and thinks about this (like I just did myself) one sees that really, the siren does not deserve any sympathy. Day after day she leads men on with her song, which always ends up leading to their death. It has been proven through history that it is man's nature to save a woman in trouble and by the man doing so he typically suffers for it. Atwood comments on the stereotypes that women are helpless, weak, and passive. And yet, at the same time dangerous when it comes to men and trapping them into commitment. But Atwood writes the poem from the women's point of view and that in reality it is the men that are the cause of their own death for always wanting to be the hero and save the woman. The siren's in this song also give off the aura of being somewhat fake. "The bird suit" makes me think of a mascot costume, where the person wearing it has to be something that they are not. The siren's are trapped in this suit of beauty where after being bored and tired of the power they have over men, they want to escape. It is a lose-lose situation for both parties. The poem also leaves the reader questioning the lines "...This song/ is a cry for help: Help me!" (20-21). Does the siren want to be rescued from her fate of being trapped as the person she is or is it a trick, where like the men, she is just leading the reader on? Atwood uses more of a psychological approach to get the attention of the reader instead of a lot of literary devices. In the poem, there is a lot of repetition of the words "the song" where it is seen in almost every stanza.
I have always enjoyed reading Margaret Atwood's novels. Like the novels, I also thouroughly enjoyed reading this poem. I love the way she creatively writes her things. She does it differently then other authors and has her own unique style. I also liked the message of this poem because it could be looked at from two different perspectives. Sorry if my thoughts are all over the place in this one. I just kept thinking of new things to say and found it very difficult to organize all of it.


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