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By Margaret Atwood

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.


Margaret Atwood, “Siren Song” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 by Margaret Atwood. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Houghton Mifflin Company.

Source: The Poetry Anthology 1912-2002 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Social Commentaries

Poet Bio

Margaret Atwood
Born in Ottawa, Canada, Margaret Atwood is one of the most prominent literary figures of her country. She has published prolifically in several genres, including over 10 novels, six collections of stories, and 15 books of poetry. The recipient of numerous awards, Atwood wrote Morning in the Burned House, published in 1995, which was a co-winner of the Trillium Award. See More By This Poet

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