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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. See More By This Poet

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