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By Margaret Atwood

In that country the animals

have the faces of people:


the ceremonial

cats possessing the streets


the fox run

politely to earth, the huntsmen

standing around him, fixed

in their tapestry of manners


the bull, embroidered

with blood and given

an elegant death, trumpets, his name

stamped on him, heraldic brand

because


(when he rolled

on the sand, sword in his heart, the teeth

in his blue mouth were human)


he is really a man


even the wolves, holding resonant

conversations in their

forests thickened with legend.


            In this country the animals

            have the faces of

            animals.


            Their eyes

            flash once in car headlights

            and are gone.


            Their deaths are not elegant.


            They have the faces of

            no-one.


Margaret Atwood, “The animals in that country” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976 by Margaret Atwood. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Source: Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976)

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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.

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