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You begin

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by

Charli MacNaughton

on 10 June 2014

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Transcript of You begin

Image
In this poem, Margaret Atwood is talking with a child about the world. The first two lines are, "you begin this way, this is your hand". Expanding on this idea, the title, You Begin, could be about a human beginning to comprehend the world around him or her, starting with basic ideas like "this is your hand". Overall, I think this poem is a reflection on people teaching other people, but no one knowing everything. We are all learning all the time. And when we teach the younger generation, we should be reminded of how far we have come, but also how far we have to go. We all have to start somewhere.
Denotation
Denotation is when a poem speaks literally about a topic without the need of background knowledge. This is shown through the lines "this is your hand, this is your eye, that is a fish, blue and flat". The poem explains the things you first learn as a child and when you read these lines there is no deeper thoughts needed. The poem means exactly what is said and you dont need to infer or look from a deeper meaning.
"That is a fish,
blue
and
flat

On the paper, almost
The shape of an eye."
Imagery is the method in which when a sentence is read it causes the rerader to interpret the line in a visual way. This is shown for me when it says "The trees and then the world, Which is round and has only,The colours of these nine
crayons"
Mood
The poem creates a feeling of hope. The poem seems to be about a new parent telling their child about the world. The lines are set out in a particular way which shows the "things" that are closer to home, first, and then expanding beyond to the world outside. The parent seems to be hopeful that the child will learn all that they need to know about the world from them only to come back to the parent in the end.
Repetition
You begin this way:
This is your hand,
this is your eye,
That is a fish, blue and flat
On the paper, almost
The shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
Or a moon, whichever
You like. This is
yellow

Outside the window
Is the rain,
green
Because its summer, and
beyond that
The trees and then the
world,
Which is round and has
only
The
c
o
l
o
u
r
s
of these nine
crayons

You Begin
This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the
red
and then
the
orange
: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more
c
o
l
o
u
r
s
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.
A very strong repetition of the words "this is" becomes clear throughout the poem. In some lines, almost every sentence begins with these two words. I think this is to keep the idea of an adult teaching a child words in the most basic of ways. However, as the poem continues, Margaret Atwood describes the world as "fuller/ and more difficult than I have said". For awhile, she abandons the repetition of the words "this is", in favor of a more freestyle poem.
Oxymoron

An oxymoron is when two words conflict and this is shown through the line "A small cloud" these two words conflict cause clouds are not small
Full transcript