Friday, December 18, 2009

Poetry Analysis #1-"Siren Song"

a Poem 201, page 271

This poem, by Margaret Atwood, is written from the point of view of a siren. Sirens, in Greek mythology, were women who lured sailors to their deaths with a song. They were sometimes pictured as birds with women's heads.

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can't remember

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don't enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don't enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique.

at last. Alas,
It is a boring song
but it works every time.

Two literary devices in this poem that add to the meaning are enjambment and transitions, and repetition. Use of details such as colons (:) also add to the appearance and portrayal of the story. The enjambment in the poem helps guide the reader through the transitions that are specifically placed throughout the writing. The story that is told through this poem is about a Siren who is trying to lure a sailor in, and in doing so tricks him into thinking she is miserable and doesn't like what the Siren's song actually does. This irony adds to the comedy of the poem as well. The idea of a Siren is mostly connected to the idea of temptation and treachery, which provides evidence that this poem is about temptation and its evil ways. The enjambent is located in the last two stanzas of the poem. The Siren says:

"This song

is a cry for help:help me!"

This line is used to show the innocence that a tempation will often convey. The Siren acts as a victim. Then the repetition of "Only you" is used to make that one sailor feel special from the rest, increasing the temptation. Enjambment is then used again when the Siren reveals that she has used her Siren song again and, of course, it works every time. This last bit of enjambment really stresses the irony and provides a solid conclusion to the overall meaning of the piece.

I enjoyed this poem because of its irony. Although temptation may be a serious thing, I found the poem to be comical. The imagery and great personification of the Siren really made it easy to picture a Siren at work.

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