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Variation on the Word "Sleep"
Transcript of Variation on the Word "Sleep"
WORD SLEEP The Author Theme Prosody Imagery Irony Metaphor Apostrophe Allusion Persona Dramatic Situation Margaret Atwood
The persona of the poem is a lover. The readers can feel that sense of romance and sincerity as the persona speaks in the poem. Though the word love was never mentioned in the poem, one can still perceive the intimacy existing between the persona and the person he/she was talking with. This is most evident in the last line of the poem saying: "I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary."
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree from Radcliffe College. Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson. The poem actually narrates a person’s eagerness to enter his/her loved one’s subconscious. The persona said that he/she wants to watch his/her lover sleep. But the intention changed as he/she said that he/she wants to enter his/her lover’s sleep. As the poem goes along, the lovers would walk “through that lucent wavering forest of blue-green leaves with its watery sun & three moons towards the cave where you must descend, towards your worst fear.” An evident irony in the poem is the fact that the persona has all the willingness and sincerity but not the capability to do what she wants to do. It was mentioned earlier that the use of “I would” suggest inability. But the poem suggests that the persona is really determined to explore his/her partner’s subconscious, the very center of his/her fear and grief. She is a Canadian poet, novelist, and critic, noted for her feminism and mythological themes. Margaret Atwood's work has been regarded as a barometer of feminist thought. Her protagonists are often a kind of "everywoman" characters, or weaker members of society. Several of Atwood's novels can be classified as science fiction, although her writing is above the normal formulae of the genre. Then, the persona said that he/she would give the lover “the silver branch, the small white flower, the one word that will protect you from the grief at the center of your dream.” Then, he/she would follow the lover up the long stairway again and become the boat that would row the lover back. At the end, the poet says that he/she would like to be the air, that unnoticed and that necessary, which dwells inside the lover for a moment. Another irony that can be seen in the poem is the variation that the poet actually presented. The usual connotation of people about the word sleep is restfulness, peacefulness and stillness. But what can be seen in the poem, though indirectly implied, is a situation that could be tiring and even arduous. Imagine how laborious walking in the forest, descending to the cave, ascending to the stairs is. The poem actually uses very vivid and immersive images which can be seen particularly in stanzas 2 and 3. The use of these images actually empowers the concept of consciousness. In Celtic traditions the Silver Branch, taken from the apple tree, was the emblem of the Bard. It was said to produce a magical music that was so entrancing that it removed all cares and worries from the listener. The small white flower may be referring to the flower jasmine which is, in various cultures, a symbol of motherhood and selfless caring. The following lines can be metaphoric as used in the poem:
towards the cave where you must descend (1) long stairway (2)
the boat that would row you back (3)
The poem in itself is an apostrophe, in which the persona actually talks to somebody whose existence suggests a high degree of uncertainty. Since the poem deals with dreams, no one can really if all those things are actually referred to a particular audience. The poem is a free verse consisting of 30 lines distributed into 4 groups (stanzas). It can be noticed that there are hanging words in some lines of the poem. This can be a way to emphasize or to catch the reader’s focus. For example, the hanging of “sleep” suggests emphasis on subconscious. Another is the hanging of “follow” which could imply the idea of submission. Some other words that were hanging in the poem are grief, row back, and enter. (1)Sometimes, it is in the hidden, overlooked aspect of us that we know and learn who we really are for ourselves and for others.
(2)A true lover will do everything in order to know and accept his lover’s attitudes and characters, even those that are deeply buried.
(3)Willingness and sincerity aren’t enough for us to achieve what we want, it also requires capacity.