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This Is A Photograph Of Me

Margaret Atwood

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Added by: -Dianne-
This was the first poem of Atwoods I have read. In the beginning of the poem i see it as someone looking at a photograph and desciribing it as being quite blurred and and hard to see, but yet it seems to be a beautiful scenery with the lake and hills, but to a viewer it is just an ordinary picture of a scene.
But as we later find out in the poem that somone is dead under the water in the lake and that the viewer of the photograpgh did not see this. This is saying that things may not always be as they seem. And that the photgraph had a much bigger story then the scenery it showed.
Added by: Daniel O'Neill
I am writing this because some of the previous comments on analysis were devoid of the two things which must be considered when one looks a text;
Firstly, (Janelle and others) you must remember that there is nothing in this poem by accident. Every word has been carefully considered and choosen by Atwood for a particular effect, poetry is about interpretation and the author will be highly conscious of this. Therefore, one can not over analyze the choice of lexis. (Besides, the authors use of grammer, metre, tone and stanza form, as well as the context it is placed in, will manipulate the reader towards the specific conclusions the author wants one to make.)
Secondly, No matter how much it sounds as if it is the poet, it is a persona. The clue here being the naturalistic tone of the first half, flexibility of rhythm and use of colloquial speech (in the sense of a conversational tone) and the metaphysical second half.
Added by: Dana
Woot! I just got the answeres to my assignment. You all rock.....except Jannelle ...what a bitch
Added by: alex
guys- think about the trees- if the tree is a family tree- it would be something like a water oak with huge, branching arms. a balsam, or spruce tree is simply a Christmas tree. (fir tree). What could this possibly have to do with atwood's identity?
Added by: Nicole
Atwood criticizes men and society in her poem “This Is A Photograph Of Me” by saying women are pushed to side, have stereotypes put on them, and essentially drowned. The picture looks smeared and blurry, as was women’s role in society, but as one studies the photograph more carefully, you see a branch in the upper left hand corner, and on the right, “halfway up/what ought to be a gentle/slope” (10-12) is a house. The hill “ought to” be gentle, but that does not mean it is gentle. Females “ought to” be gentle, but are we always? The branch in the left (liberal) hand corner is the movement for gender equality.
In the center of the picture but in the background is a lake. The photograph was taken the day after the speaker drowned in this lake. She can be seen “just under the surface” (18) if you look hard. The water, or society and men, distorts her: it is almost impossible to tell her size. Yet it can be seen if studied closely.
The woman’s death in this poem is set in parenthesis, in an aside, as if it is not worthy of being part of the poem. Men and society’s expectations and whims pushed the speaker under the lake and drowned her. This poem may be a reflection upon the past, because this photograph was taken “some time ago” (1). Atwood wrote the poem in 1998, and it could be a memory of years past when she first felt oppressed by society.
Added by: Smokey Joe
Ironically the poem is not really a photograph of anyone at all. She or he are nowhere to be seen, the narrator only can guess at there own whereabouts. Knowing Atwoods fascination and talent for writing about the female role in society, we might say that the poem represents her feelings, attitudes, or even the perception of herself, to being immersed in society where "the effect of water on light is a distortion."
Added by: Kelsey
Those of you who say that this poem is only about a dead woman have obviously not studied any poetry whatsoever. I happen to be taking a class with the poet Carolyn Forche who is a pretty well known modern poet, and happens to know Margaret Atwood. This poem is not just about a dead woman, nor is it necessarily about anyting that anyone is talking about, it is, instead, as all poetry is, up for interpretation. No one knows exactly what the poet was thinking when this was written therefore any interpretation is a vlaid one as long as it has some sort of support based on the words of the poem.
Added by: Cheyenne
I really liked this poem. When I first heard it and looked at the picture, it seemed like there was a boat in the middle of the picture. Everyone in my English class thought I was crazy. Then my English teacher said that it was supposed to be an image of a ghostly women in the trees. It was a very good poem and now matter what way you put it or see it, it will still be hard to comprehened.
Added by: doona
Maybe the poem is written in two personas. One person speaks the first part describing a (meaningless) photo that they have taken and a different (dead) person speaks the title and the part in brackets...underlying some issues about the search for identity perhaps?
Added by: Joe
I believe that Margaret Atwood is speaking to women in society. Remember that at one point men were the dominant gender in society, women were not recognised. At the beginning of the poem the lake was in the background then as the poem progresses the lake moves to the center of the poem. Margaret is therefore trying to place herself in society where she can be seen but still she is hidden from the view of society. This signifies women who want to be seen want to be heard but no matter what they are sill not acknowledged by society, they are still kept under the surface. Remember that Margaret is a feminist so most of her poems will be about 'women' issues!

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