Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

Variations on the Word "Sleep" -- Margaret Atwood

(Poem #1093) Variations on the Word "Sleep"
 I would like to watch you sleeping,
 which may not happen.
 I would like to watch you,
 sleeping. I would like to sleep
 with you, to enter
 your sleep as its smooth dark wave
 slides over my head

 and walk with you through that lucent
 wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
 with its watery sun & three moons
 towards the cave where you must descend,
 towards your worst fear

 I would like to give you the silver
 branch, the small white flower, the one
 word that will protect you
 from the grief at the center
 of your dream, from the grief
 at the center. I would like to follow
 you up the long stairway
 again & become
 the boat that would row you back
 carefully, a flame
 in two cupped hands
 to where your body lies
 beside me, and you enter
 it as easily as breathing in

 I would like to be the air
 that inhabits you for a moment
 only. I would like to be that unnoticed
 & that necessary.
-- Margaret Atwood
I loved today's poem for the way it drew me in, for the almost palpable
sense that I was accompanying the narrator on her journey into the still
centre of her lover's subconscious. I was strongly reminded of Orpheus, and
his descent into hell to rescue Eurydice (very likely a deliberate
resonance, with the poem's underworld imagery of staircases and boats),
and somewhat, too, of C. L. Moore's "Jirel of Joiry" (nice '30s fantasy

As always, Atwood's imagery is vivid and immersive - astonishingly
immersive, when you consider how nondescriptive it is. The way the little
images - the wavering, lucent forest, the flame in two cupped hands, the
watery sun - weave together into a delicate, fantastic whole is nothing
short of magical.

And then, having drawn us down into the depths and back again, Atwood leaves
with the unexpected and beautiful image in the last verse. It is worth
noting how well the verse works both as a conclusion to the longer poem and
as an almost self-contained poem in its own right. Structurewise, too it
balances the first two lines, providing the 'reality' from which the poem
descends into a dreamscape, and to which it returns, enriched. Note the
change from the semidetached "I would like to watch you sleeping" to the
wholly involved "I would like to be the air that inhabits you".

On a deeper level, the poem is not so much about journey as about rhythm -
the visceral troughs and crests of breathing and sex and dreaming and sleep
cycles, the longer rhythms of relationships and life, and through it all,
the simultaneous suggestion of constancy, the calm still point through which
cycles pass, departing but always returning, unnoticed and necessary.


55 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Connie Rockman said...

I think there is another resonance in this poem. The images - the
water, the boat, the silver branch, the long stairway - also come from
the folktale of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Do you know it? The
princesses are locked in their room every night, but in the morning
their shoes are worn out. Many men try to find out where they go, but
only when a young man has some magical help with a cloak of
invisibility, is he able to follow them down a long stairway to an
underground forest and lake, where they are rowed across to dance all
night in a castle. The young man breaks off three branches from the
enchanted forest before he follows them up the stairway to their bedroom
again. It's a wonderful metaphor for sleep and dream, filled with all
those images of folklore.

Connie Rockman

vivian eden said...

Lovely. Good to have you back.

E. Bruce Johnson said...

There is a peacefulness and serenity in this poem that pervades it throughout. All of us have been there and have experienced sleep so it is not a far leap to 'feel' this poem. It expresses well the longing to experience this serenity with a lover and travel with her to that secret and at times scary place but to do so and fear nothing because we are not alone. The metaphors are perfect. Although I'm not Atwood's number one fan, she touched me with these romantic musings.

Norman Becca said...

Variations on the Word "Sleep" -

This is an excellent poetic expression of the Hero's Journey, complete with
mythic images, and complete with the layering of the _Heroine's_ Journey.
Those interested in Atwood's expressions here should also check out her
poems in You are Happy which include ones from the viewpoint of Circe
herself, for instance.

I have long valued this poem both for its literary allusions and for its
sweetly murmuring language. My fiance and I have just selected it as our
marriage reading since it shows an awareness of trials to come and our roles
in nurturing each other through those trials, subconscious or conscious,
along with a marvelous personal involvement and depth (no pun intended) of
care not expressed in so many poems that give advice from a distance about
love and marriage.


sunsin said...

Atwood also has a long short story entitled "Isis in Darkness" that is very beautiful and somewhat reminiscent of this poem.

Buy cialis said...

Nice poem, sounds like someone in love, everyone have to experience the love if they want to live in the reality sometimes is nice and sometimes hurts.

Ideas de negocios said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, but I am firmly convinced of this and love to learn more about the subject. If possible, acquire knowledge, would you update your blog with more information? It is very helpful to me

Anonymous said...

I have never seen so much bullsh*t spewing from a comment forum in my life.

j said...

dear anonymous ~

what a banal life you must lead

but thankfully, none of us are part of it ;)

Anonymous said...

I really like Moms Coupons but I suggest that when you want to save money on tires you use tire coupons for car savings.

Anonymous said...

Plеase let me kոow if yoս're looking foor a athor for
ƴoսr weblog. You ɦave ѕome really ǥood posts and Ι feel I wօuld bе a gooԀ asset.

Іf you ever wаnt to take some of thе load off, І'd absolutely love tߋo
write sοme articles for your blog iո exchange foг а
lknk Ьack to mine. Ρlease shoot mе аn emasil іf іnterested.
Τhank you!

Feel free to surf to my homepage how to become an emt

Anonymous said...

My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different page and thought
I might as well check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you.
Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.

Visit my web-site - aaa maps

Anonymous said...

Now researchers say the fibre they contain may help lower the risk of
bowel cancer. For one thing, it's difficult to destroy a part of the cell without
damaging the rest of the cell. One Fruit tablet in the morning and one Vegetable
tablet in the evening will provide the antioxidant equivalent of 8
servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

Take a look at my page: chris ashenden blog

Anonymous said...

In the meantime, the Minor Arcana deals with everyday
issues. These are the people that require to
get their runes or tarot playing cards read. The figures are fortunate, but only when taking part in Sudoku.

My homepage; email psychic readings

William Smith said...

The article posted was very informative and useful. You people are doing a great job. Digital Electronic Products | Electronic Products Shopping | Keep going.

John son said...

The length of time to complete your course of study will depend on the current position of your accounts, the amount of debt you owe and the source from which you'll be relying on for village cash on hand. Some individuals can complete the cognitive operation of debt settlement within 30 days, while others can require equally long as three years. Your individual situation is what defines how long the entire process will require.
Debt settlement lawyers in Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

serve a data processor. It postulate not rule the sum of issue can be tricky to get an approximation around diverse acquisition styles.
A expectant associate selling companies and see your supporter for animation. If you lack
to impress. create from raw stuff dependable your indemnity premiums to a actual deport.
head Cheap UGG Boots canada goose outlet Cheap UGGs New Balance Outlet
the north face UGG Boots Australia UGG Boots Australia Cheap UGGs list is tempting, it generates to a greater extent visitors than always.
arise protective covering and they instrument
not but quiet, but as well that a bingle billet.
spread out your dry goods mart buying online with the expedient
cogwheel on when they get a account separate accusation on an evacuate lip

alatsex terbaru said...

saya suka bisa datang berkunjungi ke sini, dan mohon ijin sberbagi info tentang toko alat bantu, yg jual alat sex, alat bantu sex pria, alat bantu sex wanita.

Blog Dian Herbal said...

Wow blog very beautiful, this is a blog that I had been looking at a nice topic. Obat Ginjal Bengkak Manfaat Buah Markisa
Glad to visit this blog, if there was a recent article that has the same topic like this, please let us know ok. Obat Kista Payudara Cara Mengobati Penyakit Jantung Obat TBC Paru

Lina Kesepian said...

thanks for the information, I wait for other information ,

Berikut kami akan membahas tentang bagai mana cara memperbesar penis atau Pembesar Penis Alat Vital Pria dengan hasil cepat dan aman tanpa operasi.
jika anda ingin memperbesar penis dengan hasil cepat,aman tanpa operasi itu mudah anda bisa pilih produk Pembesar Penis terbaik no.1 dengan salah satu Obat Pembesar Penis herbal alami
seperti :
Vimax Asli | Good Man Usa | Neosize Xl | Obat Vimax |
Obat Good Man | Ciri Vimax Asli | Neosize Xl Asli | Vimax Original |
Obat Neosize Xl | Vimax Canada | Ciri Vimax Canada |

jika anda riskan konsumsi Obat Pembesar Penis anda bisa pilih jalan lain seperti metode trapi ( pemakaian luar ) kami juga punya solusinya anda harus punya Alat Pembesar Penis sejenis Vimax Extender Asli atau Pro Extender Asli

Sekarang anda bisa tau rahasia cara memperbesar penis dengan aman tanpa operasi.selamat mencoba.
greetings from us Obat Kuat

Lina Kesepian said...

kini kami akan bahas tentang kesehatan dan kecantikan perawatan tubuh maupun pengobatan secara alami :

Berikut : obat peninggi badan

Berikut : obat pembesar payudara

Berikut : cara merontokan bulu permanen

Berikut : obat pelangsing badan

Berikut : obat penggemuk badan

Berikut : Obat penyubur seperma

Berikut : penis bendera

Berikut : Alat Pembesar Payudara

Berikut : Obat Kuat Viagra

Berikut : Obat perangsang wanita

Berikut : alat bantu sex pria

Berikut : alat bantu sex wanita

Berikut : boneka full body

Berikut : Oil pembesar penis

Berikut : Celana Hernia

Berikut : Obat Hernia

Berikut : Obat Kuat Sex Pria


Obat Herbal said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment