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"It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers" -Margaret Atwood

Lindsey Moore
by

Lindsey Moore

on 8 June 2010

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Transcript of "It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers" -Margaret Atwood

While I was building neat
castles in the sandbox,
the hasty pits were
filling with bulldozed corpses
Now I am grownup
and literate, and I sit in my chair
as quietly as a fuse and the jungles are flaming, the under-
brush is charged with soldiers,
the names on the difficult
maps go up in smoke.
I am the cause, I am a stockpile of chemical
toys, my body
is a deadly gadget,
I reach out in love, my hands are guns,
my good intentions are completely lethal. another village explodes.
"It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers"
and as I walked to the school
washed and combed, my feet
stepping on the cracks in the cement
detonated red bombs.
It is dangerous to read newspapers - Margaret Atwood
(1939-) "It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers" was published in 1968. The poem portrays a reader haunted by the actrocities reported in the news. This stanza could refer to the situation in Vietnam where the US troop's use of napalm destroyed the Vietnamese jungle and thousands of villages. The use of napalm and defoliants such as Agent Orange was very contoversial. Atwood juxtaposes images of everday suburban normality of childhood with that of the violence of war. This line addresses that idea that knowledge of the actrocities of war places a heavy weight on one's conscience. For the reader, once she has read the news, these images are unavoidable. Each time I hit a key
on my electric typewriter,
speaking of peaceful trees
The last two stanzas address the idea that the reader's actions are insignificant and despite any efforts she makes, she is unable to stop these events from occuring. Form:
A narrative poem with an open form.
This open form could represent the speaker's changing view points, as the form is contained to a rhyme scheme or rhythm.
The use of simile to describe the speaker sitting in her chair "quietly as a fuse" represents the speaker's newfound feelings of being able to change what she hears about in the news. By using the word quietly, it makes the speaker seem unthreathening, however, her fuse-like actions could have large effects. Even my
passive eyes transmute
everything I look at to the pocked
black and white of a war photo,
how
can I stop myself Theme:
The images and ideas seen through the news may be difficult to cope with, as one can feel helpless and unable to change what they witness in the news.

While I was building neat
castles in the sandbox,
the hasty pits were
filling with bulldozed corpses

and as I walked to the school
washed and combed, my feet
stepping on the cracks in the cement
detonated red bombs.

Now I am grownup
and literate, and I sit in my chair
as quietly as a fuse

and the jungles are flaming, the under-
brush is charged with soldiers,
the names on the difficult
maps go up in smoke.

I am the cause, I am a stockpile of chemical
toys, my body
is a deadly gadget,
I reach out in love, my hands are guns,
my good intentions are completely lethal.

Even my
passive eyes transmute
everything I look at to the pocked
black and white of a war photo,
how
can I stop myself

It is dangerous to read newspapers.

Each time I hit a key
on my electric typewriter,
speaking of peaceful trees

another village explodes.

Full transcript