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She Didn't Mean To Do It

Daisy Fried

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I need to find a new hobby
Added by: Lisa G.
This poem was in Poetry180, a list of 180 poems compiled by Billy Collins for students to read on each day of the school year. The note above it said, “This is a poem with a haunting refrain.” That’s true for me, because it’s been stuck in my head since I read it.

I think there are several ways of looking at the poem. It could be saying that often the transgressor is treated like the victim and vice versa. In this poem the transgressor, being the subject, is almost glorified. One pities her for being sad and almost admires her for the depth of her regret. She is a tragic figure, whereas the victim is not talked about at all. If the victim in this poem has any role, it is to overlook what the woman has done.

The poem could also be about how showing remorse is not an adequate way of making up for one’s past wrongs. “She was really sad” seems like a weak reason to forget about what she did. Then again, the poem could simply be preaching against adultery or against doing anything wrong for the thrill. Sure, it’s temporarily fun, but it will make you really, really sad.

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